Trump has made a lot of noise about his ability to negotiate great deals yielding tremendous profits. We will never know how much truth Trump tells: alternative facts and provable falsehoods seem to be everywhere these days. But the point is a deal is binding and bad deals can lock you into a major disadvantage for years. We know that too well in Africa: the deals our leaders have negotiated regarding our vast mineral resources are only but a few of the examples. How is it that the continent most endowed with mineral resources is also the poorest? Bad deals! Plus, you might add, Stealing.
Making bad deals that wreck your own life however is on another level. Take the example of Jacob - his older brother Esau had the birthright but apparently was unaware of its value. Jacob had his eyes on the birthright all along and one day Esau came home famished and demanding Jacob’s food. How he thought he could barter the food for the birthright is amazing but he probably had noticed that Esau had little appreciation of its value. Quickly he proposed the deal: my food for the birthright. Esau, hungry and wanting instant gratification confirmed that opinion: “I’m dying of hunger; of what use is the birthright to me.” The deal was signed and sealed with an oath. For Jacob, excellent deal; for Esau, atrocious deal (he would later discover his folly).
But strangely this Jacob now sees a woman he loves called Rachel. He approaches her dad and asks for her hand. Father agrees and Jacob himself makes the proposal: "I’ll work for you seven years for the right to marry her.” Now the woman may be well worth the dowry but seven years? And mind you, he’s bargaining away all his earnings for the seven years. That means he gets the woman after seven years but he has nothing to bring her home to. Why not put in a salary re-negotiation clause? Bad deal!
He gets tricked by the father-in-law, who gives him the less desirable older sister Leah instead of Rachel. When he complained, the father-in-law now makes a proposal: “Finish the one week with Leah after that you can have Rachel in exchange for another seven years’ labor.” Incredibly, Jacob agrees! He had not learned from the first deal: his passion for Rachel somehow blinded him. He ends up working fourteen years for two women, the one whom he loves, the other who was forced upon him; and at the end, he was still broke!
But for the Lord, he would have been sent away empty-handed after working for this father-in-law 20 years. God now shows him how to negotiate a deal for his future that delivers wealth into his hands, but that is after suffering for 20 years!
Negotiate your future and do it circumspectly.
Be careful when negotiating in passion: your passion to own something may blind you into making an atrocious deal that you will not even recognize after seven years. It is written that he worked seven years for Rachel and it seemed like a few days to him. It might have felt like a few days but make no mistake, that was seven years of his life just gone by.
Be careful also when you have to sign on to a deal on the spot, especially if you are an introvert like Jacob. Had he asked his father-in-law for time to think the proposal through, he might have realized he had options far better than what was being proposed: after all, he had been tricked into sleeping with the wrong woman, he needed to be compensated for that; he is being forced into marriage with two women, more compensation; having worked seven years, should my salary stay the same for another seven years? More compensation. But none of these was taken advantage of because he had no time to think it through.
Notable bad deals:
Frank is a cardiothoracic surgeon practicing in Ghana. His work involves mainly pediatric cardiac surgery. Apart from children's health, he's also passionate about lifestyle modifications to promote health.