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5 Leadership Lessons from an Orphan Girl Who Saved a Nation

March 18, 2013

The Bible. I watched it last night on History Channel. I read it this morning in my favorite chair, drinking my favorite hot tea.

Today’s reading was about a young orphan from a despised ethnic minority who became one of the most influential leaders in ancient Iran. This leader was a female in a male-dominated society. The deck was stacked against her. But that didn’t stop God from changing a nation through Esther.

Here’s the story. Evil King Xerxes (more like a dirty old man than Prince Charming) throws a party to show off his trophy wife, Vashti. But Queen V refuses to play the game, so King X-man sets up the 1st ever Miss Persia contest to find a replacement queen. Esther, a beautiful young Jewish orphan being raised by Uncle Mordecai wins the crown.

Evil Haman, the “assistant to the national security adviser” is angry because Mordecai the Jew will not bow to him. So, Haman tricks the king into signing a law making it legal to kill and rob Jews for one day.

Uncle Mo convinces new Queen E to ask the king to spare the Jews. Esther explains the problem, that anyone entering the king’s presence without an invitation is usually killed, and Esther has not been summoned by the king in a month.

Uncle Mo’s response is the key verse of the whole book:
If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?

Esther overcomes her fears and convinces the king to help the Jews. The Jews survive, Esther becomes a hero, the king promotes Uncle Mo, Haman is killed, and they all live happily ever after – except Haman’s ten sons who are promptly executed (but we won’t see that on the Disney version).

Five leadership lessons from Esther’s story:

1. We don’t have to stick a fish on it. Esther is the only book in the Bible that does not mention God, the temple, or worship. But God is obviously right in the center.

2. We don’t have to take the credit. Mordecai is the real hero, but Esther got the book deal. Being an invisible leader did not bother Mordecai. He was OK with Esther getting the credit.

3. We don’t have to have a righteous leader. The Jews were saved not because Xerxes was righteous, but because of a young orphan’s boldness, an old man’s wisdom, and a lot of prayer. Generations earlier, God blessed Egypt because of a slave named Joseph, and God blessed Babylon because of an exile named Daniel. Neither Egypt nor Babylon had righteous leaders, but that didn’t hinder God from blessing and protecting His people.

4. We have to defend life. God placed Esther in her position to stop the genocide. Standing up for life could have cost Esther her life. Like Esther, we must stand up for life – the life of the widow & orphan, those dying of AIDS in Africa, those starving in our inner cities, and the life of thousands of unborn who are slaughtered daily through violent abortions.

5. We have to keep listening. Esther listened to Uncle Mo even though she did not want to hear what he said and even though she was now powerful, rich, and famous. Unfortunately, many who get to the top stop listening to those whose advise got them there.

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