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Faithlife

Prayer 118: Laboring For Laban

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Let’s get into the word.

Laboring For Laban

Jacob is facing a challenging situation
Genesis 31:1–7 NIV84
Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me.
Strained family relationships
Genesis 31:13–24 NIV84
I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’ ” Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.” Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. So he fled with all he had, and crossing the River, he headed for the hill country of Gilead. On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”
Exploitation
Gen 31:13-
Increasing hostility
Jacob is working for a Laban not a Father.

Laboring For Laban

Jacob is facing a challenging situation
Strained family relationships
Exploitation
Increasing hostility
Jacob is working for a Laban not a Father.
Regardless of the biological relationship- Fathers are people who love and value us irregardless of our monetary or occupational value.
-I remember hearing about a mom who traded her young preschool daughter to a pimp for a bag of crack cocaine. She may have given birth to that child, but she was not her mother.
Three Key Questions to ask your self if you are working for a Laban?

Are you serving a Laban or a Father?

Labans value our labor/Fathers value us.
Bosses only talk to us long enough to get the job done. Fathers will cross the country just to spend an afternoon with us.
Labans take from us/Fathers give to us.
My father sold his nice new Geo Tracker to buy me an Isuzu Amigo when I graduated from high school. He paid for a cheap old beat up Suzuki Samurai to drive, so he could afford to make the monthly note on the car he bought me.
Labans negotiate to get from us/Fathers invest in us.
Gary Royer is a dear friend of mine. He has spent countless hours talking, coaching, counseling me over coffee, across his desk or at restaurants.
Labans exploit our gifitngs/Fathers cultivate our gifitings.
Labans talk about us/Fathers talk to us.
Labans exclude us/Fathers include us.
Labans like us conditionally/Fathers love us unconditionally.
Labans give us task/Fathers give us time. (Ex. Mike Dickenson)
Labans share their wishes/Fathers share our joys.
I bought a BMW Z3 several years ago for $3100 and started restoring it. I was so excited when I got it that I pleaded with a leader in my life to go for a ride with me. He brushed me off and refused. A few months later I went through Waxahachie and called Dr. Royer. He drove across town special to meet me and drive that Z3 with me. He was so excited about it, because of our relationship.

Why would God send us to serve a Laban?

God will use Laban’s to prepare us.
God will use Laban’s to prosper us.
God
God works all things for the good of those who love Him.
Romans 8:28 NIV84
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

How to serve a Laban?

Serve with integrity: every action will be scrutinized.
Serve with diligence: do all things as unto the Lord
Colossians 3:23 NIV84
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
Serve with boundaries: Jacob separated what was His from what was Laban’s. Jacob negotiated healthy boundaries, and then held Laban to account for those boundaries.
I will work 7 years.
I was supposed to get Rachel as my wife.
I want the speckled and spotted goats and the dark lambs.
Labans are not fathers. Fathers will give you all they have. Labans will take all you have. We must live and survive in this world, which sometimes requires having difficults conversations when our rights are violated or we are mistreated.
It is not wrong to clarify wages with an employer.
It is not wrong to expect promised compensation.
It is not wrong to separate work and personal property.
It is not wrong to divide work and personal time.
It is not necessarily wrong to refuse work outside of your assigned responsibilities. (thought it may not be wise. Flexibility and initiative are highly valued in the marketplace. Limiting your work to your job description could limit your advancement opportunities and value in the marketplace)
Hang-gliding story: addressing the conflict was necessary from both sides. It preserved the relationship. We tend to think we cannot talk about difficult matters because it might damage the relationship.
Addressing conflict is a sign that you value the person and the relationship not to let circumstances come between you.

Don’t Avoid the Tough Conversations.

Genesis 31:25–32 NIV84
Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too. Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war. Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of tambourines and harps? You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters good-by. You have done a foolish thing. I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father’s house. But why did you steal my gods?” Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. But if you find anyone who has your gods, he shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.
Gen 31:25-
Genesis 31:36–42 NIV84
Jacob was angry and took Laban to task. “What is my crime?” he asked Laban. “What sin have I committed that you hunt me down? Now that you have searched through all my goods, what have you found that belongs to your household? Put it here in front of your relatives and mine, and let them judge between the two of us. “I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.”
Gen 31:36-
Approach with honor and respect. Employers and bosses are less likely to support your side if they feel attacked.
Give the benefit of the doubt. Those above you may not be aware of potential violations against you.
Stay positive. Your attitude will have a huge impact on their response. Keep it safe for them to adjust course.
Keep in mind what you really want. Don’t try to prove mistakes. Winning an argument does not pay well, and it is not usually worthy the effort. Correcting compensation or adjusting work loads are much more beneficial outcomes. You are much more likely to get a positive response if your superior feels respected and trusted and honored. If they feel attacked, accused and distrusted- they will respond to you in kind.
Clarify compensation agreements to ensure there is not a misunderstanding.
Request your unpaid compensation graciously if that is the issue.
Clarify job descriptions and responsibilities and point out requests or expectations that feel exceed your role.

Remember Who You Are Talking To

Don’t expect Labans to be fathers
Don’t expect fathers to be gods.
Don’t expect God to be a Laban.
Don’t expect God to be like earthly fathers.
Fathers have limited knowledge.
Fathers have limited patience.
Fathers have limited resources.
Fathers have limited love.
God’s knowledge, patience, resources and love for you are unlimited. He alone can be all you need.
At the critical moment:
God guided Jacob to leave
God protected Jacob from Laban
Do not say anything good or bad
God might entice Jacob to return
Bad would be a threat against Jacob
Genesis 31:51 NIV84
Laban also said to Jacob, “Here is this heap, and here is this pillar I have set up between you and me.
When God is honored and boundaries are respected, conflicts can be resolved and people can live in peace.
Genesis 31:51–55 NIV84
Laban also said to Jacob, “Here is this heap, and here is this pillar I have set up between you and me. This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there. Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.
The funny thing about Jacob’s story is that we all identify with Jacob. However, we are all Labans in our relationship with God.
We want what God gives, but not what He requires.
We take God’s blessing, but refuse to give our worship and obedience.
We take God’s blessing, but refuse to give our worship and obedience.
We try to talk God into what we want, rather than doing what He wants.
We try to talk God into what we want, rather than doing what He wants.
We exploits the gifts God gives us rather than investing those gifts into His Kingdom and bringing Him glory.
We exploits the gifts God gives us rather than investing those gifts into His Kingdom and bringing Him glory.
We talk about God rather than talking to God. We complain. We grumble. We may even talk about God or His word, and yet often somehow avoid Him.
We talk about God rather than talking to God. We complain. We grumble. We may even talk about God or His word, and yet often somehow avoid Him.
We live our lives excluding God from our daily decisions and directions rather than bringing Him into the middle of them.
We live our lives excluding God from our daily decisions and directions rather than bringing Him into the middle of them.
We are conditional in our love, service and worship of God. We praise when things are good, but distrust when struggles come. Or just opposite. We run to him in our problem seasons and avoid Him when we proposer.
We are conditional in our love, service and worship of God. We praise when things are good, but distrust when struggles come. Or just opposite. We run to him in our problem seasons and avoid Him when we proposer.
But all God asks is that we trust in His promise. He does not even ask us for a promise because He knows how worthless our promises are. Our salvation is based on His faithfulness, not ours. It is based on His unconditional love for us, not our unconditional love for Him.
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