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Archive for February, 2011

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…But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” – Genesis 32:26 (NIV)
Jacob (The Bible Collection)

Jacob was on his way to face his brother.  He had ran away from Laban.  He was on his way to face the brother who sought his life.  He had sent everyone else ahead of him to his brother Esau.  Now, he sat alone and awaiting the coming confrontation.

Jacob didn’t expect the man to appear.  Yet, he knew that this man was different.  He wrestled with the man all night.  His words showed his will to fight to the very end.   I will not let you go unless you bless me.  Those were the words of Jacob as he fought earnestly with the man throughout the night.  He held on, refusing to be overpowered by the man.

Jacob was never the same after that night.  He was permanently injured (v. 25).  He was no longer to be called Jacob again.  Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel.    He was left changed in many ways.  He had wrestled with God face to face.  He had held his own with God.  He struggled with the Almighty and survived.  Even the place was changed.  He called it Peniel because he had seen God face to face and his life was spared.

Imagine being in Jacob’s lonely condition.  Imagine finding yourself wrapped in a struggle with God.  That’s the spiritual condition of many.  many do not have that strong bond with God, but He is near.  They grapple with the Lord, seeking their own will and not His will.  In the end, after toiling with all of their might, God can still change them.  God can make them different.  It is the powerful work of the Holy Spirit that wins us over and captivates our souls.  In the end, God prevails and overcomies our frail spirits.

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“Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence.”
– Vince Lombardi’s words from his first team meeting with the Green Bay Packers.

E is for empowering. 

Entrepreneurs empower others. 

I got a whiff of this long before I became a leader or an entrepreneur.  I loved watching NFL Films and how they would run down the “best of all” players at key positions.  I discovered after a few viewings that Bart Starr and some other key players had all played on the same team- the Green Bay Packers.  They all played on the team coached by Vince Lombardi.  There had to be something about Lombardi that caused these men to excel at this gridiron sport.

Empowerment.

Vince Lombardi called on his players to take ownership of their actions.  He urged them to take every action into consideration in regards to what it meant for the team and its collective goal.  He offered his men the focal point of excellence, shared what it took to achieve such a lofty goal and allowed them to seek it out as their own.  Much like John Wooden is to college basketball, Vince Lombardi is to professional football.

The entrepreneur can learn how to empower others like Lombardi.  He or she simply needs to understand motivation and messaging.  The motivator has a message and that message must be motivational.  You lose good people when you fail to motivate them to go on beyond their current status.  Motivation takes one beyond the state of mediocrity.  Mentor and coach your people to deliver results that help the team win, not just the individual.

Engraved in Ebony
Richard Allen
(1764-1835)
Richard Allen is best known as the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal denomination, the first independent African American denomination in the United States.  However, this former slave served as a social reformer, an educator, and a businessman.  In the city known as the “City of Brotherly Love,” Richard Allen left a lasting impression on Philadelphia through the Free African Society as well as the establishment of the AME Christian denomination.

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>Now it came about when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my own country. Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me depart; for you yourself know my service which I have rendered you.” But Laban said to him, “If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the LORD has blessed me on your account.” And he continued, “Name me your wages, and I will give it.” But he said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you and how your cattle have fared with me. For you had little before I came, and it has increased to a multitude; and the LORD has blessed you wherever I turned. But now, when shall I provide for my own household also?” So he said, “What shall I give you?” And Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this one thing for me, I will again pasture and keep your flock: Let me pass through your entire flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted sheep, and every black one among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages. So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come concerning my wages. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, will be considered stolen.” And Laban said, “Good, let it be according to your word.” So he removed on that day the striped and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats, every one with white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the care of his sons. And he put a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks. – Genesis 30:25-36 (NET Bible)

If you didn’t know any better, you would think that Laban was working Jacob some more.  The passage reveals the sticky situation of their relationship.  You discover clearly how Laban and Jacob were intertwined on multiple levels and degrees over their years together.

  • Laban was Jacob’s uncle, the brother of his mother Rebekah
  • Laban was his boss/ supervisor; he tended the herds and flocks of Laban
  • Laban was his father-in-law, the father of Rachel and Leah

After the birth of Joseph, Jacob is ready to go out on his own.  He was ready to part ways with Laban.  However, Laban pleads against Jacob’s departure.  He shares in verse 27 that he knows how the Lord has blessed him for the sake of Jacob.  Laban is willing to negotiate at this point.

What is odd to me is how Laban jumps on the opportunity for Jacob to set his own wages.  He hears the young man out, but he fails to realize something.  When Jacob arrived in Haran, Laban was a herdsman and labored among his own flocks and herds.  As he began to prosper and take advantage of Jacob, it appears that Jacob is more familiar with the herds and flocks than Laban.  Thus, Jacob’s offer may appear tempting to the unwise and unknowing. 

Laban was out of touch with his flock.  Jacob wasn’t swindling the man.  He was using his own knowledge to his advantage.  He had an advantage over Laban.  Laban agreed for things to be as Jacob had outlined, according to verse 34.

Their relationship was starting to change. This was no longer the young man so in love that he would work an additional seven years for his love’s hand in marriage.  This young man had prospered Laban and wanted to do his own thing for his own family.  No matter the details of it all, we know that the relationship has grown deeper and deeper.  Jacob is ready to part ways and be gone.

I would have been ready to go, too.  Imagine living close to one such as Laban.  Think about how Laban’s sons must have teased and taunted Jacob about those fourteen years serving for the hands of their two sisters.  Jacob used what he knew to his advantage and made a move that placed some distance between both he and Laban, approximately “three days’ journey.” In any similar situation, I believe most of us would have told Laban off as we were packing our small things and causing a major divide within the seriously-dysfunctional environment. 

Good for Jacob.  He didn’t go for losing.  He used all to his advantage in order to advance his own prosperity.  This allowed for how Jacob to “increased exceedingly” in verse 43.  Jacob did so without totally doing Laban in or taking him out.

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>Entrepreneurs have the gift of gab mixed with a little charisma.  If an entrepreneur expects to succeed, then speaking and speaking about the business are at the top of the success strategy list somewhere.

No, the entrepreneur doesn’t have to be able to deliver an address like Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King.  The entrepreneur needs to find his or her voice, though.  That’s the proverbial “calling card” for many in their industry or field.  They are known for what they talk about. 

If you are versed in it, you most probably have a vested interest in it.  Share your insights and interest with others.  Are you launching something new? Or, did you just start a new partnership with a local agency or corporation? Speak up and speak out about it.  Let other know.  Make an impression on others with your wealth of well-placed words.

Go to Toastmasters or take a speech communications class at a local community college or the Learning Annex.  If you are a writer or poet, even a songwriter, do something at a local open mic night.  You just might surprise yourself once you get up and get in front of people.  Who knows? Your next big client may come out of that commencement speech that you provide to the 2011 class of graduating sixth graders.  You never really know.

Engraved in Ebony
A.G. Gaston
1892-1996
“Find a need and fill it.”- A.G. Gaston
Insurance. Funeral homes. Construction.  A.G. Gaston was one of the most successful businessmen in Alabama.  His humble beginnings in a rural log cabin didn’t hinder him from amassing a fortune from his dedication to sound business and financial practices.

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So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. – Genesis 29:20 (NIV)

Jacob and Laban, Before 1737 Giclee Poster Print by Jean Restout II, 18x24
Jacob & Laban as depicted by Restout


Jacob was willing to work with his uncle Laban in return for his younger daughter Rachel.  Laban appears to agree with the “wages” for the young man’s labor.  After all, to summarize Laban’s words in verse 19, it would be better than Jacob have her than some other man.  As the passage reads in more than one place, Jacob loved Rachel.

What You Won't Do For Love
One of my favorite songs is Bobby Caldwell’s What you Won’t Do for Love.  It appears that before such a song was even recorded, Jacob demonstrated that love will take you on a strange ride.  It drove Jacob to work for seven years to get the one he loved.

25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” – Genesis 29:25-27 (NIV)
Did I mention that Laban was Rebekah’s brother? The very same woman who had favored one son over the other and who schemed with her son to steal the other’s birthright was related to Laban.  That pretty much explains how we arrive at the situation where Laban has duped his young nephew, replacing Leah for Rachel.  Imagine being in that family.
 
Yet, after confronting Laban, Jacob still agrees to do another seven years in return for Rachel.  The man was in love.  He knew what he wanted and he was determined to get it.  He definitely went out of his way for this woman.
Jacob teaches us a lesson here.  He didn’t simply settle.  He went for what he wanted with determination.  He didn’t get detoured or distracted by Laban’s deception.  He maintained his focus on his love for Rachel.  He didn’t sue Laban or try to give her back to Uncle Laban.  He dealt with things as they were and went forward with focus.  Many of us need to see this and understand that we, too, need to deal things and move forward.  Delays and downfalls will happen. We need to move on and move forward with determination and focus on our goal, even if it is for love.

Rachel's Man - A Biblical Romance


Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. – Genesis 29:30 (NIV)

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Let us not lose heart in doing good. . . – Galatians 6:9

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good2 Thessalonians 3:13

I recently got some uplifting correspondence from some newsletter and blog readers and subscribers.  Putting the Word out there and online is much like street preaching.  You share what you got and you may not  get any form of response.  You don’t know if it hit home or fell on deaf ears.  Sometimes, you just don’t know if you have any real impact or not.

I was pondering the ins and outs, along with the pros and cons, of going on or giving up when they came in like a flood.  Responses to emails and Facebook links came in a rush.  Newsletter readers emailed and thanked me for sharing inspiring words.  Blog post comments came to without any prompting.  I had my answer.

I go on because of what the Lord is able to do through me.  That’s not a boast or brag.  That’s part of how He works through us, even while He is still working on us.  I am a witness.  He does a mighty work through chipped and fragile vessels of clay, the very ones that He Himself formed and preserved for such uses.  He uses me and I am glad to be used by Him.  He doesn’t share His glory with me, but He allows me to see enough of a glimpse of the impact that comes from what I do.  That’s enough for me.

Why bother? I bother simply to be obedient.  I bother because I love God who first loved me, knowing that His love is available to all who will call upon His name.  I bother because I know that I am called, accepting of the assignments that may or may not win me prestige or earthly treasures.  I bother because someone else had sense enough to bother me, to nudge me further and further, causing me to near the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In essence, I would have to say, that’s the main reason that I bother with it all.  And I will go on.

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>Entrepreneurs have to endure.  They have to stick it out, even when it seems like quitting time.  Even when everyone says throw in the towel.  The entrepreneur has to endure.

Enduring is part of what makes an entrepreneur successful.  Look at Donald Trump.  If he had not endured the real estate dips and tabloid rumors, he probably never would have made it to the level of The Apprentice.  I see individuals like Trump as examples of enduring the good with the bad, allowing one to keep going despite the noise of the crowd of onlookers.

Seek to endure as you grow your business.  You sustain your business by what you withstand and weather as a business leader.

Engraved in Ebony

Booker T. Washington: Black Leadership in the Age of Jim Crow
April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915
Educator, Businessman, Leader
Booker T. Washington proved that a many could rise to a position of honor from humble beginnings.  He made an impact on the education of Black America, establishing the Tuskegee Institute, and he demonstrated that raising funds for Black education could be done in some and unconventional ways.  Washington believed in and demonstrated hard work and sacrifice.  In Up from Slavery, Washington retold his own story in a manner that influenced and impacted young minds for generations.

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