Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Rebekah Principle
I remember when gas station attendants pumped your gas, cleaned your windshield and checked your oil and fluid levels for you while they were filling your gas tank. (Actually, I was one of those attendants for a while.) Today, the best we can hope for is that they be polite when we go into the gas bar and hand over our money after doing all of those things for ourselves. That's a far cry from the woman in the title of this blog.
I'm not sure who coined the phrase first, but "The Rebekah Principle" is taken from an Old Testament story found in Genesis, chapter 24. It's the story of the selection of a wife for the Jewish Patriarch, Isaac. Abraham had sent his chief servant to find the right woman from his home country. The servant arrived at the well which was a center of activity. The women of the area were arriving to draw water from the well.
A young woman named Rebekah came to draw water and the servant asked if it would be possible for her to draw him some water to drink. She not only drew water for him, but willingly drew water for all of his camels as well. While this encounter is only given a couple of verses in Scripture, it's important to see the details. She drew water for ten camels before she stopped. A thirsty camel can drink up to 30 gallons of water in 10 minutes. But let's say, for arguments sake, that they weren't all that thirsty and drank ten gallons each. That's 100 gallons of water drawn by hand from a well. Even if the well were only a few feet deep, such a commitment would take considerable time, measured in hours, not minutes; yet Rebekah did so willingly.
The result of Rebekah being willing to do more than was required of her was that she was selected to become the wife of Isaac. She will forever be remembered for being willing to go the extra mile: this is the kind of person God uses.
There are a lot of life lessons we can get from Rebekah's example. Here are a few.
"There are no traffic jams on the second mile."
I'm not sure who first said this, but I heard it first from Zig Ziglar. Very simply what it means is that if you want to stand out in whatever field you've chosen, go the extra mile. Do what others are unwilling to do.
I've found that there are at least three different types of people:
1. People who don't do what they're supposed to do.
2. People who only do what they have to.
3. People who do what they are required to do... and then some.
Think about it, which of these people would you want working for you? If you were choosing a company to do business with, wouldn't you choose a business that goes above and beyond; a company that will see that you are satisfied? If you were hiring an employee, would you want the guy who will show up only when it's convenient, or the guy who's committed to get the job done right?
"If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing right."
My mother used to tell me this when I was haphazard in cleaning my room. My response was usually something like "well I guess it's not worth doing then." What do you expect? I was a teenager.
Colossians 3:23-24 says "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." This was Mother Teresa's secret: the people to whom she ministered, in her eyes, represented Jesus Himself. Each of them, therefore, were deserving of all of the dignity and love she could give.
We get one shot at this life, we want to do it well. In fact, there seems to be something built into human beings that takes a real satisfaction in a job well done. I've seen it in sports, the arts, church life and the business world. We were created to be productive and creative, when we aren't we sense the void, even if we can't describe it.
"In order to hear the words, 'well done,' we must first 'well do.'"
There are many principles that flow from this, including "play now, pay later, or pay now, play later." The point is that there are too many people who are not willing to pay the price for achieving excellence, yet who want the reward. This is one of my pet peeves with unions. They have a purpose, but often serve to reward people who are incompetent and lazy.
In our society at large, we find a culture of entitlement that can be stated like this: "the world owes me a living." Uh... wrong. God gives us life, talents and abilities: that is His gift to us. How we use this life and those gifts, talents and abilities is our gift to Him. The Bible is actually very clear about those who are unwilling to do what they are capable of doing. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says "...If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either."
There is so much that needs doing. There are so many challenges that must be met. There are so many hurting people and so many causes looking for a champion. How can we be satisfied to sit back and assume that someone else will do it? Take some time today to think about what it is that you were put on this earth to do. You are not a cosmic accident, you were created by God to do good works. For a clue to what that may be think about these questions: What do you cry about? What do you laugh about? What keeps you awake at night? The answer to those questions often leads to our passion.
Don't settle. Be all that you were meant to be.