Leadership Spotlight - Jacob

A Series on Biblical Leaders Jacob the Pragmatic Leader

Jacob’s legacy points to his ability to move past the dysfunction of his own family and become a strong leader who did whatever it took to succeed. The choices Jacob made left him with consequences that would shape the path of his life. Jacob’s leadership style was simply to handle the task at hand and not wait for help or input from others.

Jacob was a driven, passionate and motivated leader. His strength was built upon convincing other people to see His way of completing talks. Jacob served Laban for fourteen years to be able to marry his daughters, Rachel and Leah. He thrived upon staying motivated towards his own self-directed goals. “The pragmatic leader may use the law of motivation to get people to act.”[1] Jacob exemplified a servant’s heart to Laban and built a fortune of livestock and workers. He was able to solve multiple problems with establishing his credibility to the many people following his leadership. Jacob’s motivation to be prosperous led to monetary and societal strength that would last for a long time.

Jacob was willing to compromise his convictions to get ahead of others. His decision to steal his brother Esau’s birthright from His father Isaac reveals his manipulative ability. Although Jacob usually got what he wanted, his convictions swayed towards the notion of the, “end justifies the means.”[2] The moment that Jacob stole the birthright from Esau describes his willingness to put his own well being in front of his own brother. Although Jacob and Esau made amends to a degree, the consequences of his jealousy and theft of his brother’s birthright would last for the rest of his life.

Jacob’s wrestling match with the angel of the Lord led to his hip being damaged. God woke Jacob up to the fact that He was God and he was not. Through this humbling experience, Jacob’s weakness was highlighted and his faith in God grew as a result. The angel blessed Jacob and gave him the name "Israel", meaning "the one who wrestled with God."

Jacob exemplified the intelligence of using his time working for Laban as not only acquiring a wife, but gaining wealth. Jacob did not look upon marrying Leah as a disaster, but was willing to work another seven years to marry Rachel. Jacob’s passion to marry Rachel was far from his own love for her, but was to a degree focused upon him getting his own way. Jacob’s wealth grew throughout his life but his legacy would have the flaws of being willing to sacrifice doing what is right in order to become successful.

Jacob’s “whatever it takes” attitude led him into some precarious positions that damaged his overall character. Esau showed resilient peacemaking efforts and Jacob finally was willing to make amends for their relationship. A threat to a motivational and pragmatic leader is the temptation of becoming famous. Jacob learned through different decisions that without the grace and redemptive plan of God, he would be nothing.

[2] “Pragmatic leaders tend to justify the means by the end.” Elmer Towns