“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” Nowhere is that statement more true than in the Genesis story of Sarah and Hagar whose sons Isaac and Ishmael became the fathers of two of the most powerful nations on earth. Most of the teachings about this Bible passage focus on the perils of running ahead of God’s will or on faith that believes in miracles. As compelling as those themes are, what has always stood out to me was the relationship between these two mothers. Why couldn’t they get along? Aside from the reality of two women and one man, (never a good idea. Just watch one episode of Sister Wives if you need any convincing), was there more to it than that? I wonder if some of the drama in this story came from a lack of empathy.
Sarah was the wife of a wealthy and powerful man. Her name means princess or noblewoman. In addition, she was so beautiful that Abraham lied to the Egyptians, calling her his sister. As perfect as her life seemed to the outside world, she was barren. The pain she felt must have been crushing.
In contrast, Hagar’s situation was less than privileged. Sold into slavery, her life was not her own. It is no wonder she felt contempt for Sarah once she conceived the child that was denied her.
What might have happened if these two women set aside their prejudices and tried to see life through the others’ eyes? What if Sarah understood the jealousy Hagar felt towards her? What if Hagar understood the despair Sarah felt in her barrenness? What if, for one moment, they didn’t see their differences but instead focused on what they shared in common as mothers?
We see similar prejudices in the workplace today: Millennials vs Boomers, Black vs White vs Hispanic vs Asian, Rich vs Poor, Urban vs Rural, Liberal vs Conservative, Male vs Female, More vs Less Educated. In Cincinnati, we even have Eastside vs Westside! When I was teaching a listening class at the University of Cincinnati, I asked one of the students who he would choose to sit next to on a bus if there were no empty seats left. After first saying that he would not take a bus but would call an Uber, which of course highlights our generational differences, he responded that he would choose someone who looked and dressed like him. Studies have shown that he is not alone. Most of us gravitate towards those who resemble us in background and worldview.
Every person you meet has been created in the image of God, is loved dearly by Him and has a unique eternal purpose. How could our world be transformed if we kept that perspective in mind and transcended our earthly prejudices in all of our daily interactions with others?
Monday: Before we understand others, it helps to understand ourselves. This week why not consider seeking out an online tool like MyersBriggs or Enneagram to gain a better understanding of what makes you tick?
Tuesday: Is there someone in your life that rubs you the wrong way? Arrange a time to talk with that person with the idea of understanding them better.
Wednesday: Wouldn’t today be the perfect day to seek out someone from a different race or socio-economic background to hear their story and learn about what life looks like from their perspective?
Thursday: If you are an employer, why not consider having coffee with one of your employees for no other reason than to hear what is happening in his/her life? If you are not an employee, grab coffee with a coworker whom you don’t know well.
Friday: It’s Friday and a time to be thankful for another completed workweek. To celebrate, why not listen to the music of another generation and try to see why they like it!
Bio: Laura Jackson
Laura joined SKILLSOURCE Business Builders after a twenty-five-year career in sales and sales management. Here she has found the perfect place to apply her passion for mentoring, training, and connecting people. She is certified in two coaching platforms as well as Enneagram and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. In addition, she has co-authored training modules in several disciplines of emotional intelligence, bringing humor and a fresh perspective into the training process. Her dedication to building positive corporate culture began with her early employment with the Walt Disney Company where she learned the value of seeing the greatness in every employee.
Laura resides in Mason, OH, loves spending time with family and being out-of-doors with her big yellow dog.