What Esther Teaches Us About Good Leadership

The book of Esther is a brilliant story with twists and turns of intrigue, disaster and breakthrough. The key figures of power make an interesting study, but of course, it is the One behind the scenes who is really holding all the cards! When the evil Haman was in charge, we are told that the people were confused. But when Mordecai the Jew was put in charge, they rejoiced. Here are a few thoughts on how different leadership affects the people and why.
This is what happened when Haman had influence over the king:

”An edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king's satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language… Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods… And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion.” Esther 3:12-15

Contrast this with the response of the people when Mordecai is put in charge:

“Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honour. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday.” Esther 8:15-17

Obviously, the Jews were pretty pleased about the whole thing, but it also says that the whole city of Susa “shouted and rejoiced”. People flourish, relax and rejoice when there’s a good guy in charge. And they get confused and lost with a bad leader at the helm.

At the end of a cheesy film, the bad guys are defeated, and the good guys win the day, we can relax and feel satisfaction and joy. We can relax when we know that the good guys are in control. You don’t have to be tense, nervous or anxious – the good guys are in charge, and everything’s under control.
But even in apparently catastrophic situations, like that of Job, the concept of rejoicing is repeated many times – because joy does not have to do with circumstances, but with trust in the one who holds the world in his hands. As God's children, we can know that he has everything under control, and that he is for us, not against us. We know that he is good, and that he loves us.
God's goodness and love are just pleasantries however, if he does not have control and sovereignty. But he does.

King David's example

We can also see this in the contrast of Saul and David. Even when Saul was king, it was David who was the real leader. Saul consulted a witch, and David consulted the Lord. He led each step by asking God for direction.
In a way, David was cheating! Because it was really the leadership of the true Good Shepherd, giving him tips on what to do each step of the way. Here’s how the people responded to him:

“We are yours, O David, and with you, O son of Jesse!
Peace, peace to you, and peace to your helpers!
For your God helps you.”
(1 Chronicles 12:18)

Tales of his great leadership – love for his people, shepherd qualities and devotion those around him, appreciating their unique contributions – and most of all, his reliance on God's wisdom rather than his own – come pouring through the pages of the Bible for us all to learn from. There was a LOT of rejoicing during the reign of King David. It's easy to think of other examples in the Scriptures too – of Daniel rather than the evil Satraps of the province of Babylon, of the good kings of Israel contrasting with the bad kings. But all this helps us to understand the importance of good leaders in our countries today, which the Bible commands us to pray for, whether we like them or not.

We are commanded to pray for our leaders

The Bible instructs: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Someone has suggested that this might be one of the least-obeyed verses in scripture! Yet we are the ones who lose out when we fail to do as it says.

The world is accelerating ever forward and we are hurtling towards the fulfilment of prophecy in our times. But it is all under the sovereign and ever-watchful eye of God. Things are going to get bad before they get better, but God has good not lost control, nor misplaced his plans. Good news! God is still in charge!
We can read the news and shake our heads in despair, but we know that no one is in power without the permission of God, and that our God can move a king's heart like water in his hands. Though we may live surrounded by trouble and chaos, we can still relax and rejoice, knowing who is really in charge. And that he is good.

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