Their Dream Before Yours
My father, Dennis Rowan, is a visionary. He was born in the farmhouse that I grew up in. This family dairy farm in Gap Mills, WV was the genesis of his life and dreams. If you have never heard of Gap Mills, don’t be concerned. It is not covered in most geography classes. The small town, farm life influenced his career decisions as he went on to earn three college degrees in animal sciences.
Before I knew what was happening in the world, he led the animal science department in a Missouri college. He basically built the entire program while there. By the time I was five years old, he decided to leave the security of his job, move the family back to his parent’s farm and follow his heart.
Not long after relocating to West Virginia, part of the dream came alive as he and my mother, Glenda, started a free camp for local children. The camp grew into a service oriented ministry in which church groups from all over America would come in to help the less fortunate through home improvement and service projects.
Throughout my high school and college years it was my honor to serve my dad’s vision of helping others. He is one example of great vision being borne out of small beginnings. In the foundational years of my life I learned the importance of serving and putting the needs of others before my own. I had firsthand experience in leading volunteers and developing interpersonal skills helpful in relating to many different people.
This is not the only vision that was not mine that I bought into. Like you there are many times that I have developed someone else’s dream before my own. The paradox here is that in assisting others you are actually building your own destiny. Without these valuable experiences, we would not become the person, the leader, the visionary that we need to be to see our dream come alive.
Your dream will never be fulfilled outside of being a part of the fulfillment of someone else’s dream. Not one person has been made in a vacuum. We all have significant influence from multiple sources. Every journey will include playing a part in assisting the vision of others. Half-hearted service during these times will only result in the extension of training until we learn the lessons that are necessary. Go all in. Partial buy-in will leave you unsatisfied and the task at hand unfinished.
Not the one with the angels on the ladder. We are talking about his dream woman! Jacob had a vision for his life with Rachel and was willing to go all in. He gave seven years of service to her father Laban in exchange for her hand in marriage.
Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”
Laban had other plans and passed off his older daughter Leah as Rachel. Tricky! But Jacob was not wavering. He served another seven years to get the dream wife he always desired.
So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.
Two significant events happened through Jacob’s service to Laban. What looked like a major delay and redirection of Jacob’s purpose led to his biggest blessing and legacy.
Vision for Provision
Jacob proposed a plan to his father-in-law in which he would take all the spotted and speckled lambs as his wages. Laban agreed and thus began the exit strategy for Jacob. Whenever the stronger animals would come to drink he would throw sticks in trough which actually affected the coloring of the animals. If you want to know more about how that is possible do a study on epigenetics which is how external environmental factors can affect genetics. Sorry, I got all sciencey on you.
Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks. He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart and did not put them with Laban’s flock. Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the sticks, but for the feebler of the flock he would not lay them there. So the feebler would be Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.
This plan worked great and strengthened Jacob’s financial position so that he and his family could move on from Laban’s control. His success actually led to Laban no longer favoring Jacob. God then instructed him to move back to the land of his fathers. The fourteen years of service had multiple benefits for Jacob including his character development and financial blessing. When the time of training and development was over he had to move on.
We may serve the vision of someone else for a lengthy time, but overstaying could lead to trust issues. You may be viewed as a threat. In healthy relationships this will not be the case. Godly leadership will recognize the call on your life and set you up for success in the next stage of your journey.
Legacy of Salvation
Jacob longed for Rachel but had to “settle” for Leah, as well. Leah whose name means “weary” was not the first choice for Jacob. It was his duty to marry the older daughter first. I imagine being with someone you do not want to marry would make you quite weary. Despite this uncomfortable arrangement Jacob and Leah had several children together. The Bible scholar in you may recognize their sons Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.
Of those six sons, two of them had a very significant Biblical lineage. Levi was the father of the Levites who were chosen to serve God as priests. This tribe served in the temple and performed the animal sacrifices needed for atonement. The Levites were the vessel that God used to bring forgiveness of sins to His people.
Judah’s line led to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah … Jesus. Our forever sacrifice came through an unwanted, inconvenient relationship between Jacob and Leah. Judah was God’s choice to birth Jesus who brought forgiveness of sins to all of mankind. Jacob did not want Leah, but God used that troubled relationship to bring healing to all relationships through Jesus Christ.
Jacob’s journey had many twists and turns much like yours. The unwanted moments when you are serving someone else’s dream could very well lead to your most valuable legacy. Be one that recognizes the majesty that can be borne of the mundane.
About the Author
Mark is a marketer and sometimes writer. He's trying to get better at that sometimes thing.