He was a good man, Laban. He loved to entertain strangers in need, enjoyed welcoming visitors, upheld good tradition, and never turned his back on family members. As a business man, he was doing well enough to stay afloat. His employees worked well, but gave him nothing special.
One day, Laban met Jacob.
Jacob was broke. He was desperate for shelter, food, and money. He came to Laban for retreat – a means of getting a short-term rest, food, and an opportunity for planning the next step in his life. He got all these and much more - a seemingly lucrative employment deal with an attractive retirement package in the form of Rachael. Jacob shook hands with Laban on the deal. It was a win-win situation.
Now Laban, like most savvy employers, was able to pinpoint his employee’s strengths and weaknesses very quickly. Most importantly, he was able to work out how his business might boom exponentially and his life enriched from tapping into Jacob’s strengths. However, he believed his lofty aims cannot be achieved without taking advantage of Jacob’s weaknesses and abusing the goodwill of his new employee. But Laban was not worried about that. At least, Jacob was being paid for his work. Besides, there were no suitable places around where Jacob could find good work and shelter at the same time. The clincher? Rachael! That retirement package was good enough to make Jacob do anything. Laban knew, like any smart business owner, that it is profitable to keep reminding your workers of their bonuses or incentives if they meet their targets. This is useful for motivation.
Jacob worked hard for the seven years of his contract. Laban’s company grew in size. It grew moneywise. It made huge profits, thanks to Jacob’s effort. Of course the road was rough for the superstar employee. Though he could see profits rolling in, Laban convinced him the business was not doing as well as its competitors. Wages were docked, in line with the “recession” period. Stricter rules were made to ensure wastes were minimised. Shorter breaks were introduced to ensure no employees loafed around.
It worked! Business boomed further for Laban. He became what he had always wanted to be. Wealthy.
Now it was the end of Jacob’s contract. It was time to collect his retirement package and move on to another step in life. This was when he noticed a clause in his contract. He had never seen it before but Laban told him it had always been there and the lawful interpretation remained the same. The clause said Jacob cannot marry Rachael with first marrying Leah, Rachael’s elder sister.
It was heart-breaking for Jacob, but Laban was ‘kind’. He gave Rachael to Jacob after the latter’s wedding to Leah but made him sign a contract extension for another seven years. Jacob signed. It was a lose-win situation.
Jacob later tended his resignation letter but Laban rejected it. The sad employee had no choice but to roll up his sleeves and continued slaving at a job he no longer wanted.
After much thought, Jacob took a gamble and renegotiated his contract. He struck a deal with Laban where he took a part of supposedly “damaged products” and oversaw a different part of Laban’s business. Laban agreed to this on the condition that his new in-law will give up his wages but keep the earnings from the “damaged items”. So it was done.
However, contrary to Laban’s expectations, Jacob succeeded in this unique business section for many years so much so that his fellow employees began to get jealous and his employer became suspicious.
One morning Jacob woke up and ran away with his profits, taking his wives and children. Laban followed, accusing his ex-employee of stealing. He tried to guilt Jacob into going to work. But Jacob, having an upper hand for the first time, refuted Laban’s argument and came away with his family and wealth.
Interpret this story in whatever way you please, but the truth is that most of the doings in this story were very unconventional (even on Jacob’s part) and require lots of courage and divine guidance. Jacob wanted something and was determined to work for it regardless of the difficulties he faced. He outfoxed a cunning boss legally and did not wait to submit a second resignation letter after the first one was rejected. It took long but he freed himself from slavery and grew prosperous in the process. That, for me, was worth emulating.