The role of the step-father is an important one, and it is one, from my observation of years in education, that requires the skill of a great tight-rope walker. The good step-fathers realize they've walked into a role that is one of being a true steward of the responsibility you've been given. Being a step-dad doesn't necessarily mean there is a father in absentia. In fact, the biological dad can be a very active person in the child's life. So, the question is how and when to actually intervene in a situation in a child's life as "the dad?"
In some cases, the step-dad has an on-going relationship with the dad (in the more healthy relationships) and there is an understanding. In other instances, there is acrimony between the former spouses, and the child can become the unfortunate object of that acrimony. So, the step-father has to walk a delicate line of just when to intervene in situations that intuitively he thinks he is needed, lest the situation goes to the biological dad and becomes further exacerbated as he begins to question how it was handled and why "he" got involved. In other cases, the biological dad has vanished and the step-dad is now responsible for becoming the father that the child needs, in both secular research as well as in scripture - the fathers we are to be.
It's not easy.
So, what about Joseph? How would you like to have been Joseph? We see an understanding Joseph when he learns of Mary's pregnancy in Matthew 1, wanting Mary to have dignity in spite of the condition, as Matthew notes, "being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame...." (see Devotion 12.12.16). Joseph is going to be given the role of a lifetime - God's Son will be his stepson. Joseph will be the earthly father of our Father's Son Jesus Christ. It's not a statement in scripture, so this is truly speculation, but I have to believe in choosing Mary God chose a house where the Father would bring up His Son as God desired.
So, dads and stepdads, we also know that children and their faith are a primary responsibility of ours as well, as Ephesians notes, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (2:10) Being a husband and father are primary among those works we are given, to be stewards of what God gave us, just as Joseph was. Our role is no less important than Joseph's.
Pray we live up to that role we've been given, as we believe Joseph did (scripture sheds little light on that relationship). For those of us who have already done the bulk of child-rearing, be there for those who seek answers to situations they face as newer dads. If you come to me, my answer will be Lou Holtz' answer, "Before I had kids, I had a lot of answers. Now I have kids and no answers."
Hope Men's Ministry