Genesis Day 49: Creating a New Culture…Amid Stress (Part 1 of 3)
It is one thing to live into a new culture in a season when everything is going well. It is quite another to live your culture amid envy, affliction, and even hatred.
Many companies and many people seek to create a new chapter in their lives—be it a new corporate culture or a new and improved individual personality.
Trying to turn the corner is hard. Doing it in a swamp of jealously and loathing is more than difficult. You try to hold onto your newfound principles and stay above it. Yet even the most motivated, newly-minted saint will falter.
I’ll get to Genesis 30 shortly… stick with me!
One of the most formative chapters of my life was when our company explicitly sought to remake our culture. Our employees were not happy. Union organizers were engaging our people. It was a clarion call to look in the mirror, figure out where we were falling down, and change. It was hard work.
And we all knew that we reverted to old behaviors when the stress went up. To change we needed to:
- Explicitly describe the new behaviors we were aiming for.
- Consciously coach one another to achieve them.
- Courageously admit to our people when we were acting the old way.
- Humbly ask for their help to behave the way we wanted to behave.
You’re probably wondering “what on earth (or heaven) does God have to do with changing corporate culture?” Answer: Everything. I say that for two reasons.
First, God owns it all. Second, changing culture is all about changing our individual hearts—and God is the best at doing heart transplants.
I believe God is changing Jacob and His family. Picture Jacob. The Conniver. We have read, from his birth, how he was after his brother Esau’s place (25:26). We have read how he used Esau’s weakness to obtain Esau’s birthright (25:31). We have read how he and his mother stole Esau’s inheritance (27).
We have also read about his encounter with God (28:10-17).
Since that encounter, it seems as if Jacob is trying to live into a new culture. He asks for Rachel’s hand in marriage, even agreeing to work seven years for it. Then, he is tricked. Does he blow up? Does he retaliate with his own trickery?
No. He works another seven years.
Yet Rachael and Leah were raised by the man who tricked Jacob. Daddy’s old culture seem to have been passed to them. Rachel hates Leah (29:31). God, seeing this animosity towards Leah, blesses her with three sons. Rachel’s response: envy (30:1).
The situation is so bad that Jacob’s “anger is kindled” against the woman he loves, Rachel (30:2).
The entire situation spirals with maidservants now sent to bear children (we know how that turned out in the past), and even Rachel and Leah “hiring” Jacob (v.16).
It ends (or perhaps, pauses) with God’s intervention as both wives conceive.
The next scene is perhaps Jacob seeking the next step to creating his own life, his own culture. He has brought Laban prosperity. He owns nothing.
Now, Jacob seeks to create his own flock. He makes a deal with Laban. Laban immediately acts in a way to game the situation to his favor. Jacob responds with his own actions.
(As an aside, in Jacob’s day there was an erroneous belief that white patches in view of ewes would cause while specked animals—the reality is that speckled animals are born 3 to 1 over singular color animals.)
Regardless, Jacob is resorting to his old culture of trickery…building a new culture, a new way of behaving, is hard.
Yet in the middle of all this strife, is Jacob changing? Yes. Jacob has been living amid crazy stress for 20 years. He is learning to wait on God.
In the next post, I will write more about God in the middle of all of this. For now, I am asking myself about Step One that I listed earlier: