[Unresolved conflict affects many families and family businesses, as I’ve experienced personally in my own work with families over the years. Below is a guest post on reconciliation from Lance Woodbury, an adviser to family-owned and closely held agriculture businesses. Lance writes a weekly Faith and Family Business reflection, and this one is the final article of a series exploring the biblical story of Jacob and Esau. – Bill]
Instead of hanging on to past conflict, Esau had surprised Jacob by embracing him – forgiving him! Jacob responded by offering gifts of property to Esau.
But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.” (Gen. 33:9-10)
Note the pattern: Esau’s embrace, Jacob’s gifts. Esau’s admission of plenty, Jacob’s insistence. And finally Jacob’s declaration of seeing his brother in the image of God and his relief at being accepted. An unexpected act by Esau thus begins a process, followed by acts and words from Jacob, culminating in the restoration of a relationship. This is a remarkable story of family reconciliation.
Perhaps the lesson is that reconciliation requires someone in the family business taking an unexpected step. A phone call or text reestablishing a connection. A birthday wish, an invitation to lunch, an unexpected visit, or surprise attendance at a family gathering. Maybe just eye contact and well-wishes. But a signal, a move, an actual or metaphorical embrace, that says “Let’s begin again.”
Have you experienced reconciliation after a serious conflict in your family? If you are in such a conflict now, what step might you take to start the process of healing and acceptance?
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Published September 10, 2021
Topics: Family Business