Joseph of Nazareth: Lessons from a Carpenter

Joseph of Nazareth
Jesus working as a boy in Joseph's carpentry shop.

Wikimedia Commons

Continuing with our series of resources for Christian men, Jack Zavada of takes our masculine readers back to Nazareth to examine the life of Joseph, the carpenter, and his son, Jesus. Along the journey, Jack points out in a very practical way, three rules for men to live by. He also examines the God-given tools men can use to build up their spiritual life of faith.

Joseph of Nazareth: Lessons from a Carpenter

Everyone knows that Jesus' stepfather, Joseph, was a carpenter and that Matthew calls him "a righteous man," but we seldom think about the wisdom he handed down to Jesus.

In ancient times, it was customary for a son to follow his father into his trade. Joseph practiced his trade in the small village of Nazareth, but he probably worked in nearby towns as well.

Recent archaeological digs at the ancient Galilean city of Zippori, only four miles from Nazareth, have shown that extensive building was done in this former district capital.

Zippori, called Sepphoris in Greek, was completely restored by Herod Antipas, during the years that Joseph was working as a carpenter. It's very likely that Joseph and the young Jesus made the hour's walk to help in the city's reconstruction.

Much later in Jesus' life, when he returned to his hometown of Nazareth to teach the gospel, the people in the synagogue couldn't get past his former life, asking, "Isn't this the carpenter?" (Mark 6:3 NIV).

As a carpenter, Jesus must have learned many tricks of the woodworking trade from Joseph. While tools and techniques have changed a great deal over the past 2,000 years, three simple rules that Joseph lived by still hold true today.

1. Measure Twice, Cut Once

Wood was scarce in ancient Israel. Joseph and his apprentice Jesus couldn't afford to make mistakes. They learned to proceed with caution, anticipating the consequences of everything they did. It's a wise principle for our lives, too.

As Christian men, we need to be careful in our behavior. People are watching. Nonbelievers are judging Christianity by the way we act, and we can either attract them to the faith or drive them away.

Thinking ahead prevents a lot of trouble. We should measure our spending against our income and not exceed it. We should measure our physical health and take steps to protect it. And, we should measure our spiritual growth from time to time and work to increase it. Just like the timber in ancient Israel, our resources are limited, so we should do our best to use them wisely.

2. Use the Right Tool for the Job

Joseph wouldn't have tried to pound with a chisel or drill a hole with an ax. Every carpenter has a special tool for each task.

So it is with us. Don't use anger when understanding is called for. Don't use indifference when encouragement is needed. We can build people up or tear them down, depending on which tools we use.

Jesus gave people hope. He wasn't embarrassed to show love and compassion. He was a master at using the right tools, and as his apprentices, we should do the same.

3. Take Care of Your Tools and They'll Take Care of You

Joseph's livelihood depended on his tools. We Christian men have the tools our employer gives us, whether it's a computer or an impact wrench, and we have a responsibility to take care of them as if they're our own.

But we also have the tools of prayer, meditation, fasting, worship, and praise. Our most valuable tool, of course, is the Bible. If we sink its truths deep into our minds then live them out, God will take care of us, too.

In the body of Christ, every Christian man is a carpenter with a job to do. Like Joseph, we can mentor our apprentices--our sons, daughters, friends and relatives--teaching them the skills to pass the faith on to the generation after them. The more we learn about our faith, the better a teacher we'll be.

God has given us all the tools and resources we need. Whether you're at your place of business or at home or at leisure, you're always on the job. Work for God with your head, your hands, and your heart and you can't go wrong.

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Your Citation
Zavada, Jack. "Joseph of Nazareth: Lessons from a Carpenter." Learn Religions, Dec. 6, 2021, Zavada, Jack. (2021, December 6). Joseph of Nazareth: Lessons from a Carpenter. Retrieved from Zavada, Jack. "Joseph of Nazareth: Lessons from a Carpenter." Learn Religions. (accessed March 25, 2023).