One look at the news headlines can elicit an overwhelming flood of anxiety and discouragement that is hard to shake. Add that to concerns about our children, finances, safety, and careers, and we are left wondering how to find the courage to lead in our homes, communities, and workplaces when it feels like everything around us is falling apart. Rather than turning to social media binge-watching or other means of escape, I prefer diving into the pages of Scripture, where I find encouragement from the stories of God’s people who bravely stepped into their callings, even when the circumstances were dire. Queen Esther is one such biblical heroine who has been an inspiration to me, especially in my most challenging seasons.
Esther faced adversity from the time she was orphaned through her reign as queen. And when the stakes were highest, she stood strong, even when the possibility of death for doing so was looming. Her decision to bravely approach King Xerxes to save her people, the Jews, changed the course of history and played an important role in advancing the kingdom of God. What can we learn from her leadership as we face our own challenges today?
4 Leadership Lessons from Queen Esther
1. Pray Together
When faced with the difficult decision to approach the king, with death as a possible consequence, Esther asked her cousin to recruit a prayer team. Her humble servant leadership was on full display when she chose to join them in fasting and prayer.
Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish. (Esther 4:16)
What a model she is for us today! When times get tough, do we turn to God for strength, or do we try to handle adversity on our own? Do we ask others to join us in prayer or do we keep our struggles to ourselves? How does her willingness to pray alongside her people display strong leadership?
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:20)
I know I often go into fix-it mode when troubles arise, then find myself on a hamster wheel of overwhelm and despair. When I surrender to God in prayer and ask others to join me, I am reminded that I don’t have to go it alone, and neither do they. Relying on the Lord’s guidance, comfort, and peace will keep us grounded in truth as we place our trust in His plan no matter what we are facing.
2. Cultivate a Servant Heart
Esther’s servant heart shines through in many ways. Her obedience to God in answering His call, her devotion to Mordecai, her humble service to the king, and her willingness to sacrifice it all for her people establish her as a woman of God who puts others before herself. Just like Esther, we are called to serve even when it means sacrifice on our part. Of course, Jesus is the ultimate example of this principle.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
I tend to spend way too much time focused on my own wants and needs, which can deter me from creating space in my life for serving others. This is something I pray about often. Do you struggle with that too?,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34–35)
I admit, my flesh leans toward self-preservation and earthly comforts, so that is why I often fall short of my call to show the fullness of God’s love through my service to others. What I have discovered is that taking the first step out of my comfort zone can be as simple as a visit to an ailing friend or a commitment to serving on the welcome team at church. Sometimes, serving others requires more of a sacrifice. And I long for the courage to say yes to every opportunity He presents, no matter the cost.
3. Engage in God’s Word
Discernment is the key to unlocking all that God has in store for you and His Word will show you the way. In Esther, we see an amazing ability to discern God’s calling. She displays a righteousness I believe to be rooted in her Jewish heritage. I imagine her cousin, Mordecai, taught her God’s Word as a young girl and built a foundation of faith that helped her stand firm in her conviction to save her people, even if it meant death.
As believers in and followers of Jesus, it is important that we establish ourselves in truth by engaging in God’s Word daily. It is a lifeline that keeps us tethered to what is godly and opens our eyes to what is not.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
In our fallen world, we need to be equipped for the battle so we can bravely do what God asks of us.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)
Engaging in God’s Word doesn’t have to be complicated; it just needs to be consistent. Plan time with God by marking it on your calendar every day. Don’t pressure yourself with unrealistic expectations. Instead, carve out time that works for your schedule and choose your Bible study format wisely so you don’t get discouraged with something that isn’t practical.
One of my favorite ways to engage with the Bible is Read Thru the Word Bible study with Wendy Pope.
4. Trust in God’s Plan
The book of Esther does not mention God’s name even once. However, you see God’s providence revealed throughout Esther’s story. From the moment Mordecai overheard the plot to kill the king so he could intercede to the circumstances that led Esther to being crowned queen, God’s divine direction advanced His plan.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
That truth can be difficult to grasp when we are faced with situations that challenge our faith and make it hard to lead others in a godly way. Trusting in His plan gives us courage to do what is right even when it’s not popular, comfortable, or safe. Understanding with certainty that God is in control, even when it may feel like the world is falling apart, develops a courageous faith ready to tackle whatever comes our way. This allows us to lead others in the ways of Jesus with confidence.
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 4:14)
What is one step you can take today that will help foster your courageous faith?