Saturday, November 17

Learning Leadership

Early the following spring, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes' reign, I [Nehemiah] was serving the king his wine. I had never appeared sad in his presence before this time. So the king asked me, 'Why are you so sad? You aren't sick, are you? You look like a man with deep troubles.' Then I was badly frightened, but I replied, 'Long live the king! Why shouldn't I be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been burned down.' The king asked, 'Well, how can I help you?' With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied...
Then Esther told Hathach to go back and relay this message to Mordecai: 'The whole world knows that anyone who appears before the king in the his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him in more than a month'...Three days later, Esther put on her royal robes and entered the inner court of the palace, just across from the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing there in the inner court, he welcomed her, holding out the gold scepter to her. So Esther approached and touched its tip. Then the king asked her, 'What do you want, Queen Esther? What is your request?...And Esther replied, 'If it please Your Majesty...'
I was recently reading Nehemiah when I noticed a familiarity in the story with that of a story I know better - that of Queen Esther. I am struck by a couple of ideas. First of all, I am thankful to serve a King who allows me to freely enter His courtyard. He not only accepts my honor and my pleas, but he truly wants to hear the desires of my heart. I think that may be more amazing than we in our free culture can easily understand. Second, I notice deep courage - a great deal more than I have ever had to muster and more than I may even have the potential to find within me. I see selflessness. These two frightened souls put their people and those whom they love ahead of their own safety. These are fantastic accounts about amazing, strong leaders from whom I hope to learn more.

* To read more, see the books of Esther and Nehemiah in the Old Testament.

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