יָטַב – yatab – yä·tav’
And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”
— Nehemiah 2:5 (NKJV)
Do you want to take the next step in your business? Perhaps there’s a big project or contract you would like to be granted. Maybe you’d just like to increase your odds of promotion.
Today’s Word of Wisdom, which can help you in achieving business success, comes from the ancient and lovely language of Hebrew and is found in the Biblical Book of Nehemiah.
On the surface, Nehemiah’s story may be hard to relate to. He lived in a different time, a different culture, with different practices… Some scholars even think Nehemiah might have been a eunich, which would make it even harder for a modern person to relate to him. However, his story of success can be paralleled in modern times inside of a business setting.
Nehemiah was a servant in King Artaxerxes’ palace. Which is a nice way of saying he was a slave. Instead of thinking of the story in terms of kings and slaves, for our purposes it would help to think in terms of boss and employee. We might even stretch the analogy for working between a business and current or potential clients or businessperson and current or potential business partners.
The key word, or better yet, Word of Wisdom of the story is יָטַב. Yeah, let’s transliterate that to yatab. The pronunciation is yä·tav’.
Here’s the definition via Strong’s Concordance:
yatab a primitive root; to be (causative) make well, literally (sound, beautiful) or figuratively (happy, successful, right):–be accepted, amend, use aright, benefit, be (make) better, seem best, make cheerful, be comely, + be content, diligent(-ly), dress, earnestly, find favour, give, be glad, do (be, make) good((-ness)), be (make) merry, please (+ well), shew more (kindness), skilfully, X very small, surely, make sweet, thoroughly, tire, trim, very, be (can, deal, entreat, go, have) well (said, seen).
Okay, if your mind is reeling from the expansiveness of that definition, let’s focus in on the “find favour” portion of it. And let’s use the American spelling of favor.
Favor is the English word yatab has been translated into in Nehemiah 2:5 quoted above. Favor is something Nehemiah had in King Artaxerxes. And favor is something you need to gain from your boss, clients, business partners, etc, if you want to have the maximum amount of career success in your life.
Nehemiah wanted to undertake a big project; he wanted to rebuild the burned, torn down, and destroyed wall of Jerusalem. In order to do this, he had to get the permission and endorsement of the king. Because Nehemiah had King Artaxerxes’ favor, Nehemiah went from cupbearer to the man in charge of a huge reconstruction project and a great leader beyond the reconstruction project.
Here are three steps we can take from Nehemiah’s success and apply in our businesses or careers to gain favor and success.
1. Be a Cheerful Worker
Perhaps the biggest characteristic of Nehemiah that helped him gain favor with his “boss”, King Artaxerxes had to do with the way he performed his duties or did his job.
When Nehemiah heard about the walls of Jerusalem being laid waste, he was visibly upset. This was not the norm for Nehemiah.
And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. 2 Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.”
Despite plenty of legitimate reasons for Nehemiah to be unhappy with his job, his life, the state of the world, Nehemiah had never been sad in front of the king.
Think about all the people you’ve ever worked with. Were there any that always seemed to be unhappy or negative about things? Usually, those aren’t the people we like working with the most. What about people who always seemed positive or cheerful? How much more likely are they to gain your favor?
What kind of attitude do you have at work? Your attitude will go a long way in deciding whether or not you have the favor of a business partner, boss, or client.
I’m not saying you can’t have a bad day. Nehemiah had a bad day and it caught the attention of the king. Because it was out of the normal for Nehemiah to have a bad day, Artaxerxes cared about what was wrong. If every day or most days is a bad day for you, people will stop caring what’s wrong and your business opportunities will decrease.
2. Be Proactive
Nehemiah saw a problem and stepped up to do something about it. He asked the king for the opportunity to solve the problem.
How often do we wait for an opportunity to fall into our laps when there are opportunities all around us waiting to be seized?
Look for a need, see how you can step up to fill that need, and then open your mouth to ask for the opportunity to do it. If you proactively ask your boss for the opportunity to tackle a project or show him or her a need and what you can do about it, you’re likely to gain favor in his or her eyes even if he or she decides against giving you that particular opportunity.
The worst case scenario is an answer of “No.” But that you asked will make it much more likely that you’ll be thought of for future opportunities.
Put yourself forward for promotions, propose a business partnership, offer services to a potential client. Opportunities are awfully difficult to come by when you are unwilling to ask for them.
3. Make a Plan
Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
There’s more to yatab than just being liked. There’s a causative action of making you “to be” something or creating success. The favor of yatab includes being granted opportunity.
King Artaxerxes liked Nehemiah, but Nehemiah was not a wall-builder, he was a cupbearer. Artaxerxes needed a plan from Nehemiah. Nehemiah was able to present the king with specific goals, a time table for the work, and what he needed from the king.
Having a plan adds to your credibility and helps in gaining favor from a potential client, boss, or business partner.
May your attitude, proactivity, and planning gain you much favor or yatab that will aid you in reaching all new levels of success whether in the international shipping business or any other industry you choose.