An effortless display.
The story of Esther shows us two ways a person can display and practice influence. One is contrived, toilsome and short-lived; the other is humble, effortless and lasting.
There is no doubt that King Xerxes had a position of influence in Persia. He ruled over 127 provinces and accumulated great wealth and power. King Xerxes made every effort to ensure that people knew of his power and wealth. He spent 180 days focused on doing exactly this! The end goal for King Xerxes was personal vindication. Haman acted in this way too and organised a gathering of family and friends, just to speak of his success, wealth and position of honor. He needed to prove his influence to his family and friends, and as a result his pursuit of influence was toilsome. In both King Xerxes and Haman we see their influence is easily compromised and fleeting. The honour that Haman so desperately sought, was given rightly to Mordecai. Furthermore, his evil plans were exposed and this led to his imminent death. For King Xerxes, in his toilsome pursuit of creating monuments of himself, history tells us this was cut short as he was assassinated by Artabanus.
Even though these men had momentary fame, power and influence, it would fade in the light of the enduring purposes of God. 1 Peter 1:24-25 says, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flowers of grass. The grass withers, and the flowers fall off, but the word of the Lord lasts forever.” Are we pursuing influence that is lasting and for the glory of our Father, or are we more concerned in the displaying our personal success?
As we look to Esther we see that that her influence is effortless. By effortless, I do not mean an absence of steps of faith or obedience, but rather that her vindication was not something she sought. In her obedience and trust as Mordecai commissioned her, and through the compassion she had for her people, she influences a change that lasts. Esther did not promote herself, use her influence for personal indulgence, but took hold of opportunities to influence for the good of others.
We see the end result of the courage of Esther and Mordecai result in a Purim being made. The Purim was a Jewish festival that was established to celebrate the deliverance of the Jews from the lot (“pur”) that was cast by Haman. The Purim was a beautiful image of God’s sovereignty and echoed Proverbs 16: 33: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Haman’s plots to destroy the Jews would falter under the providence of God. This Jewish festival was a day of remembrance for the Jewish people; a day not only of joyful celebration but where they would also bless the poor with gifts. What an incredible outworking of Esther and Mordecai’s faithfulness! Even though Esther and Mordecai were recognised for their influence, it ultimately resulted in the blessing and serving of others, and pointed to the sovereignty of God.
Our sphere of influence must be seen through the lens of servanthood and result in the blessing of others. Jesus influenced events in history in the most profound way by adopting the position of a servant (Philippians 2:7) of God and others. He was never interested in self-promotion, but rather to promote and advance the glory of His father. Jesus ministered in the normality of life to reveal the impossibilities of God. Esther demonstrates Christ-like servanthood as she risks her life to save her people, God’s chosen nation. By adopting servant hood we avoid the risk of seeking notoriety, which leads to a focus on the self.
Are we adopting the posture of servant hood as we enter new opportunities to influence and minister? What selfish ambitions is the Holy Spirit calling us to let go of, in order for us to discover His higher and greater ways?