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Just Lost My Dad, Whose Life can be an Example for All

My father died a week ago Saturday and his funeral was this past Friday. Given the long and blessed life that he led, the last week was really a celebration. And that celebration had everything to do with the impact he had and the example that he was.

We received many comments from many family members and friends…some of which include:

  • Everyone has heroes in life that they look up to. I am no different. Yesterday we lost one of mine
  • He stepped into my life when it was crumbling; he took me in emotionally and gave me strength. I’ll never forget how special and loved he made me feel
  • I’m blessed to have had so much time with your Dad
  • I can’t stop thinking about all the good times and advice that your Dad gave me
  • He was an unbelievably great person and a role model for how a father should act
  • I loved that man and admired him so much
  • I think of him fondly…what an impact he had on me
  • Your Dad was a great man and a big influence on my life
  • Your father is one of the more important guideposts in my life. More than probably any other adult who I grew up with…besides my own father
  • I’m a better man having known your Dad

Hearing similar things about him over the years, in addition to our own experiences, it wasn’t a total surprise for my mother, my 3 brothers, or me, although very gratifying.

From Modest Beginnings to Success

My dad and his siblings had a very modest childhood. Having his first job at age 7, he helped to support his family before paying his way through college. He would eventually own 3 successful small businesses and be active politically, first at the state and national levels as a leader in the pro-life movement. That was followed by being highly engaged internationally, working for peace in the Middle East, which had him engaged with kings and queens, other foreign heads of state, US presidents, vice presidents, senators, and congressmen.

What would impress most didn’t impress him at all. He liked to remind us that everyone puts their pants on the same way…one leg at a time.

The Impact He Had on So Many

So, the question is how his upbringing and lived experiences resulted in so many being so drawn to him. I think it was his humility, coupled with his compassion and his confidence, especially in others. People felt special when with him; they felt safe. He was other focused, deeply caring about others.

When you had a conversation with our dad, you had his full attention. He made you feel important, valued, and understood. He made you see yourself through his eyes and he saw you with infinite possibility.

He was the same with our family. I think the greatest example our father could have given his sons is how a husband is to love his wife. He loved, loved, loved our mother. We heard it 100s, if not 1000s of times, “your mother is the greatest gift God ever gave me”. Married for 57 years, they were best friends. They were inseparable.

As good an example he was as a husband, he equally exuded what it meant to be a great father, truly investing in his 4 sons, collectively and individually. He was always encouraging, teaching, coaching, mentoring, and loving us…as related to the sports we played and the endeavors we pursued.

My Mum and Dad with their Grandchildren

Living His Faith…Answering the Call

A regular Sunday Mass attendee his entire life, my dad had his conversion when he was 71. From that time until near his death at age 84, he was a daily Mass attendee and Communicant. And every day at 3PM, he prayed both the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Rosary. He had an expression he used prior to procedures that he’d have done in the later part of his life, “it will be ok and if it’s not ok, it will be ok”. He was in a great place spiritually, saying to my brothers and me towards the end, “I’m tired; I want to go be with our Lord”.

In Matthew 22: 37-39, Jesus gave us the Great Commandments, where He said, “love God your Father with your hole heart, hole mind, hole soul, and hole strength; love your neighbor as yourself”. In addition to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), it is arguably the most impactful thing Jesus told us. Our father, Robert Joseph, did both in exemplary fashion:

  • loved his God
  • loved his wife, sons, and so many others

If we believe what we believe…and I do, our father is in a much better place. We’ll miss him, but we know that he’s at peace with our Lord, Jesus Christ. Can’t wait to see him again. We love you, Dad!!!

Feel free to contact me with questions or comments at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph

 

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Why It’s So Important to Forgive

Are you one to hold a grudge? It doesn’t have to be a major “resentment”. Maybe it’s minor thing that you won’t forgive of someone else? What kind of impact is it having on the other person? On you?

In the Scriptures, Jesus tells us that we need to forgive. One example is the “Our Father”, the only prayer Jesus gave us, where He says, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Another is in Matthew 18:22, where in response to Peter asking how often we are to forgive, Jesus says, “I do not say to you even seven times, but even seventy times seven times” There are numerous other examples in Scripture as well.

Why do you think Jesus is so insistent that we forgive others? We get the answer when we refer to another part of Scripture, the Great Commandments, where in Mark 12:29-31 – Jesus said, “The first is this…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus knows that we can’t love someone if we resent or lack forgiveness for another. It’s just not possible to do so, to love purely when we don’t have forgiveness in our hearts. And as much as we can’t love someone else, we can’t love God our Father with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.

It being one of the most important things Jesus told us, we need to abide by the Great Commandments. To not do so is to not pursue our faith, to not grow in faith, to not have peace, joy, or fulfillment in our lives.

Before Forgiving Others?

Before forgiving others though, we often need to forgive ourselves. That was true for me and to do so I needed to bring someone alongside me. Given the tragedy I experienced in my life, I saw a Christian therapist for a number of years…lots of sessions, and lots of copays. The visual I think about was her facing me with a Crucifix in one hand and a mirror in the other, because we spent every session, all session, talking about how I needed to change and be more like Jesus.

For you it might not need to be a therapist. It could be a good friend, a relative, or mentor. Whoever it is, I’d suggest that it be someone who has experience, is educated, independent, and invested in you being the very best you can be.

In forgiving ourselves, we can come to a place where we understand that others’ issues (their faults, failings, and inadequacies) aren’t to be cast upon us, but owned by them. We understand that when people hurt us it’s most often not with malice, but instead from a place of their own woundedness. As such, they need our forgiveness. They need our love.

Jesus calls us to love one another. In addition to loving His Father, it’s His priority for our lives. Here’s a little secret….it’s only in loving others, loving God our Father, and being a Disciple where we’ll have true peace, joy, and fulfillment in our lives.

As always, feel free to contact me with questions or comments at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph

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One of Jesus’ Biggest Asks

Did you know that central to our faith is being a disciple? Did you further know that central to being a disciple is making other disciples? It seems that most Christians, including Catholics, aren’t aware of this.

Two of the most important things Jesus shared with us in Scripture, that He asked of us,
directed us to do, are the:

  • Great Commandments, Mark 12:29-31 – Jesus said, “The first is this…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
  • Great Commission, Matthew 29:19-20 – Jesus said to His disciples, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Jesus wasn’t making mere suggestions. Both are clear to anyone who wants to listen. Critical to our individual spiritual growth, they are also very important to the health of the Church.

What Does It Mean to be a Disciple?

Being a disciple is living the life taught to us by Jesus Christ. It is both the Great Commandments and the Great Commission. Although in some ways simple, it’s not easy. It’s the journey of a lifetime.

With much having been written about it, one aspect that is often ignored is making disciples. Many, including me for a long time, don’t have an idea of what it means to make a disciple. There are those who don’t care and can’t be bothered by it. Others believe they’re doing it, but when you ask them how, they’re very short on details.

Proven Model

I work for the Conference Office at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where several years ago we became very interested in truly understanding discipleship. Endeavoring to find a model that results in spiritual multiplication (disciples making disciples making disciples) over an extended period of time, we researched over 50 organizations during a 2-year period.

The hard work paid off. We found a model that has worked for over 35 years. Developed by Greg Ogden, it’s detailed in his book, Transforming Discipleship, where he points to the benefits of “micro groups” over one on one discipleship and traditional small groups of 6-10. Time tested and proven, Greg’s model is the only one we found that could meet our criteria.

It Serves Your Needs…Not Just Others

We refer to them as Discipleship Quads, where 4 people (men with men, women with women) meet weekly over the course of a year, both learning and living the behaviors of a disciple. If you’re like most, first hearing that seems daunting. But having spent the last twelve months in a group, I can tell you that it’s one of my favorite parts of the week.

I read a study not long ago that indicates that 49% of adults complain about being lonely. Wow…that’s 1 in 2. With the advent of the smart phone and our lives becoming busier and busier, this statistic has dramatically increased. An intentional part of the Discipleship Quads is the fellowship time. Combined with the review of the week’s content, meaningful friendships are born and true learning of our faith is accomplished, all related to your personal journey.

With each taking his/her turn facilitating the group over the course of the year, it’s easy for those interested to start a new group. Not only for you individually, but think about it for your Parish. If just 2 groups (8 people) started in year #1, that would potentially mean 8 groups/32 people in year #2, with possibly 30+ groups and over 100 people in year #3. What would the impact be on your Parish with 100 engaged, enthused Disciples?

The Best Part

Here’s the best news (other than it being a proven methodology)…it’s 100% free. No gimmicks, no tricks….it’s FREE OF CHARGE. Just go to https://steubenvilleconferences.com/discipleship-quads/. There you’ll get the details of the model, how we’ll support you through the process, and how to get the content. Did I mention that it’s 100% free?

Please feel free to get back to me with questions or comments at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph

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Relationships… The Closer They Are, The More Challenging They Can Be

Relationships Can Be Tough

I don’t know about you, but the closer I am to someone, the more challenging the relationship can be. I’m not talking about the good times. They’re easy for everyone. I’m referring to times of conflict or potential disagreement, where you don’t believe the other person is considering or has made the right decision.

My theory is that we fear the risk of loss. We care for and depend on those closest to us, whether family or friends. We don’t want to hurt them. We don’t want to create disagreement or conflict because we don’t want to lose them. So out of fear of saying something wrong, we don’t say anything, or we don’t convey our true feelings, or what we say comes across the wrong way.

This has certainly been true in my life, whether it be with my brothers, close friends, our kids, and even my wife. If I’m truthful, I’ve not communicated what or how I should many times in my life. Because of expectations that are most often unspoken, things don’t always come out the right way. Because of the closeness, assumptions are made and feelings are easily hurt. There’s a tension that doesn’t exist when folks aren’t so close.

Things are Different When Relationships are More Distant

I’ve been working within organizations for 33 years. Over that period of time, I’ve experienced plenty of issues that require resolution. Ironically, most never really reach the level of conflict, which I attribute to addressing them proactively and professionally.

I often say that if I were the husband and father that I am the business manager and coach, my family would be a lot better off. That statement stems from my approach in those roles and has proved to really help me not only in the work world, but at home. What I’ve learned is:

  1. Don’t assume malice; instead understand that the other person has the best intentions and as such, isn’t trying to hurt you, others, or themselves
  2. Let them know how much you care early in the conversation
  3. Share with them your discomfort with the discussion. Related to this one and #2 above, you might say something like, “I care for you more than you know. I don’t want to hurt you, nor risk losing you. As a result, I’m nervous about the conversation I think we need to have. I really hope I can convey what I’m thinking with you understanding my heart”. Obviously make this your own.
  4. Don’t make assumptions. You wouldn’t with a stranger or coworker. You shouldn’t with someone close to you. You’ve probably heard, “to assume is to make an ass out of you (u) and me”.
  5. You can say anything as long as you say it softly. Although not absolutely true, it is pretty true. Tone is so important. Sharing is always better than telling and way better than scolding. Yelling is obviously unacceptable and unproductive.
  6. Truly listen for understanding. Don’t be so invested in JUST getting your points across, but listen to understand the other person and his/her struggles, objectives, and ideas.
  7. Don’t be overly invested in the outcome. We all have our own lives to live. We need to make decisions for ourselves, while others need to make their own decisions. We can try to charitably influence, but we shouldn’t own the outcome. We can’t be relying on others for our own peace and joy (topics for many future blogs)

Interestingly, at work I see it as my mission to help people solve their own problems. I help by asking questions as opposed to imposing my view, whereas I want to solve the problems of those closest to me. Or more specifically, I want them to solve their problems the way I want them solved. You see the distinction? The problem? The preferred way? I have, which is why I try to follow 1-7 today.

I sincerely hope the above helps you. I know that these things have helped me over the years. Please share your thoughts with me via email at mark@markjosephministries.com.

May God Bless you on your journey to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph