In the art of approval seeking, there are some common patterns of human behaviour. There may be more models, but let us look at four classic responders in their need to be affirmed.

Affirmation Seeker #3 Schemer

No one better fits the description of schemer than the Patriarch Jacob. From his birth he had a heritage to live up to and was chosen to exceed the cultural birth order preferential treatment. His brother Esau was first born, but God and the parents could see that Jacob was a struggler who would not settle for a secondary role.

Even though the approval is already given, a schemer works behind the scenes to manipulate for success. He or she will lie, cheat and hurt others to gain status. They have an elaborate imagination for how to play people and get what they want.

We see Jacob the schemer use temptation with Esau to give away the birthright. Jacob colludes with his mother Rebekah to deceive his father Isaac into granting the fatherly blessing of the firstborn to him.

Schemers are not always heartless though. A schemer will make extraordinary sacrifices to win love and appease their enemies. When Jacob was in love with Rachel, his father-in-law to marry Leah first easily fooled him. When Jacob was travelling home and Esau was coming to encounter him, Jacob played the cards sacrificially to honour Esau and present himself vulnerable.

Schemers are desperate for approval and forever changed if ever convinced of their acceptance. What was it that Jacob wrestled God over? He would not let go until God blessed him. He was already blessed in life, but manipulated instead of waiting on God’s affirmation.

God responds to schemers with a fight that ends in a limp and a name change. Israel could not be formed until Jacob was reformed.