And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee. And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake. And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it. (Gen 30:25-28 KJV)
After having served his full 14 years for Laban, and having begotten sons and daughters, Jacob became restless with his stay with Laban, and longed to go home. The reason for this was not far-fetched. Jacob knew he had a home to go to, and longed to return back to the loving face of his mother and father which he had not seen for about 14-15 years now. However, that was not all there was. One other issue that Jacob had, was the way Laban did business with him.
Laban was a shrewd business man. He knew how to ‘milk’ virtue out of people. He knew how to get the best out of people without giving them something back. For 14 years, Jacob led his sheep and flock quite well, and it did not even cross his mind to do something for Jacob to help him settle down as a family man.
Yes, we may say it was Jacob’s fault; after all, he was the one that requested to serve for 14 years for his two wives. However, if we recognize the way God judges us and the way He expects us to live as Christians, then we must realize that taking advantage of people is not a godly thing to do, no matter how naïve those people are.
Let me speak to Christians in business; especially those that have staff and workers who render services to them. It is not consistent with Christian culture to take advantage of people. Sometimes, working for so-called Christians seems to be the most difficult, depressing work on the face of the earth. There is no genuine concern for the well-being of one who is serving under them. Sometimes, we seem to have this sense of superiority that makes us think that if someone is thinking in a certain way or he is weak in judgment, then we can crush him to death since he does not know how to ‘play the game’.
I once listened to a message by a particular successful business man which he gave in a church conference. He spoke of how he gave someone appointment to come and see him at a particular time. The person came at the time scheduled, only to discover that he was in a meeting. This person decided to wait for him for some time until he finally came out. According to the story, he deliberately delayed in order to ascertain how much the person valued his time. To him, since the person waited that long for him, the person had no value for time; and so, he refused to do business with him.
You see, I am used to hearing stories from people, because I read a lot. However, I know when a story only shows that a man had not bee regenerated by God, and is not doing business by the direction of God’s Spirit through the Word. I quietly discountenanced that man as an unserious Christian… if he was even a Christian at all.
You see, there is a godly way by which Laban would have handled Jacob, even if Jacob was naïve. However, Laban chose to ride upon Jacob’s naivety to achieve his greatness in business. He knew that his business was prospering because of Laban, but he did nothing to show his gratitude. It was only when Jacob remarked that he wanted to leave that Laban began to ask him to name his wage. Even in the midst of all these, Laban still wanted to cheat Jacob and somehow ensure that Jacob got nothing out of his business deal with him.
We could permit Laban to do this because he does not have the fear of God in him. However, it is important to remark that this is not expected of anyone who says he is a Christian. There is a godly way to treat your employees and workers. There is a godly way to handle salaries and paychecks. There is a godly way to encourage your employees and workers under you to develop their potentials and become better persons in the society.
I sincerely encourage every Christian in business to get this book titled BUSINESS BY THE BOOK by Larry Burkett. It will be a shame if you have read business books from Robert Kiyasoki, Donald Trump, Bill Gates, and many successful business men, but you have not read Business by the Book by Larry Burkett.
Jacob, through the help of God, was able to maneuver Laban’s business cunningness and was able to become profitable on his own. Though what happened to him taught him a big lesson about the wickedness in cheating others out of what the rightfully deserved.
However, we must remember that Jesus said that we Christians are like sheep in the midst of wolves. Hence, He warned us to be wise as serpents and harmless as dove. We live in a wicked world that is willing to use us and throw us away. Hence, in all our business dealings and economic pursuits, we must stay conscious of the will of God for our lives at each point in time, and not be moved about by the desire to make ends meet.
May God help us.