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Microsoft word - johnsonk_esther.doc
One of the most inspiring women of the Bible is Esther. Her life and ministry were so
prominent and of such great value that she is one of only two women who have a book of the
Bible that bears her name. Esther is an ordinary woman that God chose to use for His purposes.
The book of Esther tells the story of a young Jewish girl who became a queen, but it also
provides insight into the life of the Jewish people living under Persian rule. At the time of
Esther’s life, the Persian Empire was vast and stretched from what is now India in the east to
Turkey and Ethiopia in the west. Although God’s name is never mentioned specifically in this
book of the Bible, the story of Esther is included in the canon of scripture because of its
relevance to mankind and God’s providential work revealed through its pages. Even though the
story of Esther is an historical account of her life and the lives of the Jewish people in Persia, it is
applicable for Jews and Christians throughout all time. In this paper, Esther’s life, ministry, and
Esther was no different than any other young lady. She had the same desires and feelings
each woman possesses. Her early life probably mirrors that of many women today. She was
orphaned at a young age and raised by her male cousin, Mordecai. It is a traumatic thing for a
child to lose their parents and can result in life-altering affects. Her life and attitudes were
certainly affected by her orphaned status. However, just as anyone struggling with a devastating
obstacle in life, this is a barrier that Esther had to overcome.
At the time of the events in this book transpired, Esther was living in the Persian city of
Susa with her cousin. The events recorded in Esther take place fifty years after King Cyrus had
decreed that the exiled Jews in Babylon could return to Jerusalem and twenty-five years before
Ezra’s return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. This information puts Esther and her life into
context. Although she and Mordecai were free to leave Persia, they had chosen to stay. This may
be an indication of how actively they were adhering to their Jewish faith and how comfortable
they had become in the Persian culture. Nevertheless, God’s word tells us that He is a jealous
God, “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy. 4:24)1 and He
pursues His people relentlessly so they will turn to Him alone.
Esther was a lovely woman. She was so strikingly beautiful that she won the kings favor
through a beauty contest that was held for all of the young maidens in the land. This propelled
her to the position of Queen of Persia. It is possible the king observed more than just outward
beauty when he looked at Esther. As Vander Velde said, “He must have seen intelligence,
integrity, and courage in Esther---not a fawning but a queenly character.”2 These are qualities
Beauty was a desirable attribute in Esther’s time, just as it is in today’s world. When
physical attractiveness is considered extremely important, it is easy for any woman to fall prey to
this much sought after trait in life. Beauty and beauty rituals were all Esther needed to concern
herself with. This was her life, a life devoted to pleasing King Xerxes.
1All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the English Standard Version.
2Frances Vander Velde, Women of the Bible
(Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1985), 129.
Esther had to deal with the baggage of losing her parents, the societal priority of physical
beauty, and the inferior place of women within the culture. However, God divinely placed her as
a leader and tool for His glory. Only God can equip and establish a person as an instrument to
accomplish His will. God chose Esther to be such a device. If God can use an unlikely candidate
like Esther, surely He can use any woman who desires to surrender herself to His plans and
purposes. God can use anything or anyone to accomplish His will; even if one does not possess
faith in Him. It does not matter how little one has to offer God, He takes whatever is given and
makes it enough. It is not what we possess, but who possesses us, that constitutes the difference.
Esther found herself entwined in a life she knew nothing about. She went from being a
carefree young girl in Mordecai’s household to the courts of the king. She was in unfamiliar
territory. Many times, as leaders, we find ourselves engulfed in unfamiliar territory trying to do
and accomplish things we have never done before. We must, like Esther, learn how to be
flexible, adapt, and have the assurance that God is present and working regardless or our
God formed Esther into the woman she was and she continued to rely upon the
characteristics He had instilled in her. Esther continued to be respectful of others and humble,
even though her social position in life had changed dramatically. Respectfulness of others and
sincere humility are leadership qualities that will propel us to places beyond what we can
God uses many things to form a leader. The culture and community of a leader’s younger
years have a profound effect on future years. Many times attitudes are formed and instilled
during early years and these can either benefit or hinder the leadership of a person. It is evident
that Esther did not allow the fact that she was an orphan to determine the outcome of her life.
She chose to ascend above her less-than-perfect situation. As present day leaders, we must learn
to overcome our past circumstances and difficulties. We must not allow them to dictate our
future. Esther is a prime example of this type of overcoming attitude.
A casual observance of Esther’s life does not seem to reveal that she had any desire or
motivation to be in any type of service or ministry for the Lord. She was content with life in
Mordecai’s house and then became content with the day to day concerns of life in the courts of
the king. She never set out to serve God in any grand manner or be used as His instrument.
However, God had strategically placed Esther to be His divinely placed tool even though it was
We may not set out to be in ministry for God or have any high and lofty aspirations, but
God knows why He has created us and what He has ordained as the purpose our lives will fulfill.
We may not feel as though we have any unique skill set, gifting, talents or qualities, but whatever
God has developed and poured into our lives is more than enough to accomplish the task when
Esther was an unlikely leader in God’s army. However, God chooses and divinely
prepares and establishes whoever He desires to fill the assigned places He ordains. He will do
His work through surrendered vessels. Just as He used Esther, He is able to use any woman that
Esther risked her life to save the Jewish people. Esther took on a responsibility that many
would have been unwilling to accept. Because of the actions of this young Jewish girl, an entire
group of people’s lives were spared. Esther’s life is inspiring.
Thirty years after Esther’s actions saved the Jewish people, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of
Jerusalem. This would never have happened without the intervention of Queen Esther. God
always finds a way to accomplish His will, but looking at this situation through human eyes, it
would appear that without Esther there would not have been a Jewish nation for the Messiah to
come from. “Esther paved the way, unknown to her, for the coming Christ. Through her God has
also indicated that His guidance is available to His followers for making decisions. These
decisions should be based upon the Word of God, tested by prayer, and the counsel of others,
dependent upon an inner assurance and upon God-opened doors.”3 God desires to use each one
of us. He will guide and direct us, as we wait on Him. We can also be used by Him as His
Leadership Qualities of Esther
A young inexperienced woman became queen of the great Persian Empire. She was the
chosen vessel of God for delivering the Babylonian Jews from certain death. However, this
young queen was subject to the laws of the land. She was only able to enter the presence of her
husband, the king, when summoned by him. To enter without an invitation could mean death for
her. The leadership qualities that God had deposited within Esther would eventually surface for
Esther, isolated from society by her royal home, did not realize that a decree had been
announced issuing the death of the Jews. She was informed of this serious situation by
information received from Mordecai through her attending eunuch, Hathach. Upon receiving the
information of the decree, Esther was shocked, but did not realize the seriousness and future
implications of such a decree. A challenge was issued to her by Mordecai to be strong and
3Gien Karssen, Her Name is Woman: Book One:24 Women of the Bible
(Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress,
defend the Jewish people. He said, “… Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will
escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance
will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who
knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)
An important quality for leadership is seen in Esther’s exchange with Mordecai. Esther
was open and willing to take counsel and advice from her cousin. Just because she was the
queen, she did not consider herself to be all-knowing or above seeking counsel. A good leader is
open to the advice of others and requests input and suggestions for consideration.
Fear is a great hindrance to any leader. A leader must learn to overcome fear, which is
exactly what Esther did. Coming before the king without a summons could result in her death.
The matter at hand was of such vital importance that Esther risked her own life to save the lives
of her people, the Jews. This took courage. She was willing to endanger herself by entering the
king’s presence without invitation. She could never have mustered the courage for such a
courageous feat unless she employed another attribute that must be resident within a leader; a
dependence upon God revealed through a reliance on prayer.
Esther knew she could never do what was being asked of her in her own strength and
survive the ordeal. She called upon the Jewish people to fast and pray for three days while she
also fasted and prayed. A good leader must recognize their need for God. Prayer invites God into
the situation. Time spent in fasting and prayer demonstrates a dependence upon God and His
intervention and presence in our circumstances. A good leader must be a person of prayer.
Esther was a woman of patience, another necessary quality for leadership. Too often we
rush into situations without counting the cost or looking at the circumstance from every angle.
We have a tendency to want a quick resolution to our problems. However, Esther knew the
importance of timing and allowing God time to work in a situation before rushing forward.
Esther allowed God time to work through the prayers of the people, and in the heart of King
Proper timing is an important element of leadership. Even when Esther burst into the
presence of the king without being summoned, she did not immediately verbalize her request.
Esther invited the king and Haman to a banquet. Yet, at the banquet she was not quick to reveal
her request. Instead, Esther invited them both to a second banquet. She waited for the proper
time. She used wisdom to determine the proper timing of her request. Improper timing can
thwart the best laid plans and ideas. As we follow God, we must stay in step with His timing and
Esther found favor with the king and Haman’s plot was unraveled. What was previously
a death sentence for Esther, Mordecai, and the Jews was turned around. Esther’s request was
granted and the Jews were given ample opportunity to defend themselves rather than acquiesce
to their annihilation. These events all transpired because Esther chose to take time to seek the
face of God and then patiently follow His direction. In the end, the Jews gained support from the
government officials employed by the king. God turned things around completely.
It is important as leaders to never forget we must depend upon God. Our trust cannot be
in our own talents, gifts, knowledge, and insight to accomplish desired objectives. God is the one
who will guide us through difficult times and decisions. It may even be possible to avoid
difficulties when we spend time seeking Him. Dependence upon God must be our motto.
Esther was a loyal woman. She was loyal to Mordecai and cared about what he was
concerned about. She acted when he prompted her to act. Loyalty is a quality that is scarce in
today’s world. Mordecai knew he could rely on Esther to listen to his advice and concerns. As a
leader, loyalty to others and from others is extremely important. A person who displays loyalty
and respect will also receive it in return from others.
When reading the book of Esther, we are tempted to believe situations like this only
happened during Bible times. However, there are many opportunities that lie before each one of
us. We must not let the busyness of life and things of this world blind us to His divine
appointments. God is still on the throne and looking for people He can use in a variety of
circumstances to be His instrument in the world.
“Esther came to what many would call her ‘defining moment.’”4 Esther could never have
imagined she would be placed in such circumstances. At the time of Esther’s reign as queen and
her intervention for the Jewish people, she probably never realized the importance of her
decisions. This was Esther’s defining moment. It is in times of pressure we discover the truth of
our framework. Esther never saw herself as a heroine for the Jewish people or having a pivotal
place in history, yet this is where God placed her. She was an unlikely candidate for the job.
Many times we see ourselves as unlikely candidates for what God has called us to do. It
is easy to feel inadequate for the task. However, realizing Esther was an ordinary person who
dealt with human struggles (an orphan, young, Jewish, woman) should make us very aware of
her humanity. If God can use Esther, He can use anyone.
Esther’s life is an example of what God can do with a life submitted to Him. He can take
what little we have and multiply it and use it for His glory to accomplish magnificent exploits.
4Beth Moore, Esther: It’s Tough Being A Woman
(Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press, 2008), 102.
Esther is an encouragement and inspiration for women everywhere to pursue and develop
leadership qualities. We must be women who recognize the necessity of total dependence upon
God, living a life open to godly counsel and advice, committed to prayer and fasting, fearless,
Because of Esther’s selfless actions in securing the deliverance of the Jews, she is now
remembered annually at the Jewish Feast of Purim. A young ordinary woman became the
heroine of the Jewish nation and will be remembered throughout time.
Esther was God’s instrument for the saving of many lives. In many ways, Esther depicts
the person that is standing in the gap in the following verse: “And I sought for a man among
them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should
not destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30) Esther was a woman who was willing to stand
in the gap for the Jewish nation and God used her mightily.
Karssen, Gien. Her Name is Woman: Book One/24 Women of the Bible.
Colorado Springs, CO:
Moore, Beth. Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman.
(Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press, 2008.
Vander Velde, Frances. Women of the Bible.
Grand Rapids, MI: Regal, 1985.
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