Strengths in the Christmas Story, Part 3: Two Ways to Manage Change

How God Used Mary and Joseph’s Strengths, Part 3

Throughout the Christmas story, Mary and Joseph demonstrate the value of different strengths.

God specially selected Mary and Joseph to be Jesus’ earthly parents. He used their different strengths in processing information, solving problems, managing change, and facing risk – each in unique ways.

Mary and Joseph balanced one another. When it came to managing change associated with having and raising a baby – and the Son of God, at that – the two parents demonstrate how God used their strengths to complete each other.

Mary Managed Change Calmly

Joseph leading Mary on a donkey

Image: The Nativity Story

The discovery of a pregnancy is a major change. The discovery of a pregnancy out of wedlock is overwhelming. The discovery of a pregnancy out of wedlock in first century Palestine would be cataclysmic.

As a Predictable, Mary approached the change in a deliberate, unhurried way. She carefully questioned the angel who brought the news to get the information she needed. Her verbal response was steady, unruffled, and accepting. Then she calmly packed her bags for an extended visit to her relative Elizabeth. When Mary spoke of her pregnancy and the changes it would bring to her life, she was loyal to God, focusing on His mercy and generosity (Luke 2: 26-56).  She managed change calmly.

Joseph Managed Change Swiftly

It can be tempting to think of Joseph, too, as a Predictable because of his slow-paced environment: no cell phones, internet, or on-site camera interviews. But in question is how Joseph managed change, not how his environment enabled him to do so.

Joseph’s quick action marks him as a Dynamic. He carefully considered options as he processed information, but once the facts were in hand he took action. When God appeared to him in a dream to confirm Jesus’ paternity, Joseph moved forward decisively to marry Mary (Matthew 1:18-25). When the census was ordered Joseph didn’t dawdle in Nazareth, but took Mary – nine months’ pregnant – and immediately traveled to Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-5). When he learned Jesus’ life was in danger, Joseph quickly gathered his family in the middle of the night and hurried them away to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15).

Joseph made purposeful decisions, and he managed the resulting changes with energy and quickness.

Manage Change with Balance

God used Mary’s steadiness to manage the changes brought on by a sudden pregnancy, subsequent childbirth, and motherhood. But He also used Joseph’s decisive, quick-thinking energy to protect Jesus during a vulnerable childhood.

With just one set of strengths, the Baby may have been endangered. Imagine the Christmas story with only Mary’s unhurried, relaxed approach contributing to the equation. The family may never have made it to Bethlehem, let alone escape to Egypt. On the other hand, Joseph’s fast-paced intensity, no matter how well-meaning, could have led the couple into unnecessary complications.

God graciously provided balance in this set of parents. Their combined strengths allowed them to manage overwhelming changes as they parented Jesus.

God does the same today … through you. When you say “yes” to the way you manage change, God uses those strengths in the challenges you face, but to complete those around you too.

Growth Point

God uses our strengths in managing change to complete each other.


[Joseph] rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt (Matthew 2:14).

Prayer Points

  • When it comes to managing change, with whom do you identify more: Mary (Predictable) or Joseph (Dynamic)?
  • Name a time when your approach to managing change benefited another person.
  • Consider those in your family or on your team who manage change differently from you. Spend some time thanking God for the way their strengths complete you.

Strengths In the Christmas Story

Strengths in the Christmas Story, Part 1: Solving Problems Together

Strengths in the Christmas Story, Part 2: Two Ways to Process Information

Ways the Disciples Used Their Strengths

Part 1: Managing Change – Let’s Go or Let’s Make a Plan

Part 2: Processing Information: That’s Wonderful or Give Me Proof

Part 3: Problem Solving: Fix It Now or One Step at a Time?

Part 4: Facing Risk: Outside the Box or Work the System