Strengths in the Christmas Story, Part 4: Two Ways to Face Risk

How God Used Mary and Joseph’s Strengths, Part 4

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.

The Christmas story reveals the value of those differences.

Mary and Joseph balanced one another. When it came to facing risks of an unplanned pregnancy and raising a tiny king, the two parents demonstrate how God used their strengths to complete each other.

Mary Faced Risk Fearlessly

Mary on donkey, Joseph leading her through city

Image: The Nativity Story

At first glance, you may not identify Mary as a high risk taker. But when it came to facing risk, Mary was Pioneering.

Today, women are advised to take extreme caution when traveling during pregnancy and are even grounded during the eighth and ninth months. In contrast, a pregnant Mary trekked back and forth across Palestine.

Soon after she discovered she was expecting God’s Son, Mary traveled to visit her relative Elizabeth. This meant a journey to the hill country of Judea, south of Jerusalem, probably about 70 miles from Nazareth. She traveled over difficult terrain, likely in a cart or even by foot.

Even more astounding was Mary’s unconventional response to the Roman census during her ninth month of pregnancy. She fearlessly accompanied her fiancé, Joseph, on the long trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, estimated to be 70-90 miles (depending on the route.)

God used Mary’s determined attitude to help fulfill His prophecies about the Messiah and bring His Son into the world.

Joseph Faced Risk Conservatively

It can be tempting to think of Joseph as Pioneering, too, because of he took on the responsibility of a wife and child before even marrying.

Yet Joseph faced risk methodically and carefully, marking him as Structured.

He familiarized himself with Rome’s expectations and then complied meticulously with the census regulation expectations (Luke 2:1-5).

When he learned Jesus’ life was in danger, Joseph was precise in following God’s guidance. He acted prudently by gathered his family in the middle of the night and hurrying them away to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15).

Joseph’s cautious, orderly approach to risk helped keep his family safe.

Facing Risk with Balance

Both approaches protected the Christ Child. Joseph’s caution gave the family pause to stay put until the time was right. Mary’s fearless risk-taking allowed them to move from place to place and face the unfamiliar.

God graciously provided balance in this set of parents. Their combined strengths allowed them to face enormous risks as they parented Jesus.

God does the same today through you. When you say “yes” to the way you face risk, God uses those strengths in the midst of your challenges and in the challenges of those around you, too.

Growth Point

God uses our strengths in facing risk to complete each other.


In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah. (Luke 1:39, ESV).

Prayer Points

  • When it comes to facing risk, with whom do you identify more: Mary (Pioneering) or Joseph (Structured)?
  • Name a time when your approach to facing risk benefited another person.
  • Consider those in your family or on your team who face risk 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

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

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