Esther - Leader and Control

A unique perspective of leadership and control from the lives of leaders on the book of Esther – by Anand Pillai

Purim 5th century BC eve of Sat, Feb 23-eve of Sun, Feb 24

Esther 9:20-22 Then Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, obliging them to celebrate the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same month, annually, because on those days the Jews rid themselves of their enemies, and it was a month which was turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday…

Purim 2012 eve of Wed, Mar 7-eve of Thur, Mar

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presented President Obama a copy of the Book of Esther as “background reading” on Iran.

Introduction - Book of Esther

  • One of 2 books named after a woman
  • One of 2 books in which the word ‘God’ is not mentioned at all.
  • The book in which India is mentioned twice

–“This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush – 1.1”

–“They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. 8:9”

Leader and Control

  • Xerxes – a Leader without control
  • Mordecai – a Leader with control
  • Esther – a Leader under control
  • Haman – a Leader out of control
  • God – The Lord in Control

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power” – Abraham Lincoln

Esther a beautiful story

1.Vashti dethroned

2.Esther becomes queen; Mordecai discovers a plot

3.Haman conspires to kill the Jews.

4.Esther hesitates then agrees to help

5.The banquet and the gallows

6.King honors Mordecai

7.Haman hanged instead of Mordecai

Lessons from Esther - 1. Greatness is not absolute

However great you are there is always some one greater – Vashti

Esther 1:19 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.

2. Nobody is indispensable

However gifted/powerful you are, you are always dispensable – Vashti, Haman

3:1 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles.

7:9-10 Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who were before the king said, “Behold indeed, the gallows standing at Haman’s house fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai who spoke good on behalf of the king!” And the king said, “Hang him on it.” So they hanged Haman on the [h]gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided.

3. Private life orders the public life

A public servant does not have a private life –

Xerxes & Vashti

Esther 1:17- 18 This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.


However small you are you can reach the top if you are in the right hands. Esther, orphan to Queen

Esther 2:5-7 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah.  Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother.

5. God’s plan always prevails

However devious the devils plans, God’s plan always prevails.Esther 6: 1-3That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.

God's benevolent surveillance cameras:

The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. – Proverbs 15: 3

6. At start, the Leader’s journey is “alone”

The first step of a leader takes may be alone and at great risk.

Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” – Esther 4:16

7. God operates as you co-operate

Esther 5: 2,3 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

7. God operates as you co-operate

2Kings 7:5-7 They arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Arameans; when they came to the outskirts of the camp of the Arameans, behold, there was no one there. For the Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear a sound of chariots and a sound of horses, even the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.” Therefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents and their horses and their donkeys, even the camp just as it was, and fled for their life.

Xerxes, the leader without control

Leadership is action

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Leadership is action, not a position”

Understanding events in our lives

Man’s Responsibility and God’s Sovereignty


God operates even as man co-operates

The sin of inaction - James 4:17

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Blake & Mouton Leadership model

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Blake & Mouton model/Book of Esther

Xerxes, Impoverished leader - 1,1

1.He has no control over his personal life

2.He has no control over his subordinates

3.He essentially allows the team to do what ever it wishes and prefers to detach himself from the team process by allowing the team to suffer from a series of power struggles.

4.Acts only in crisis

5.Pendulum shift factor

6.Qualifications – DD, MBA, Ph.D

7.His place of work

Xerxes – Leader without control

His qualities:

  1. He consulted trusted advisors on a regular basis – 1:13
  2. He didn’t flinch when it came to hard decisions -7:9; 8:11
  3. He held power for more than 20 years during a volatile period in history
  4. He had no control over his personal life – 1:12
  5. He implemented whatever ideas he got – 1:13, 14

Our role in leadership

Esther 1:13,14 Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times  and were closest to the king – Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memukan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.

Our role in leadership

1 Chronicles 12: 23, 32 These are the numbers of the men armed for battle who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul’s kingdom over to him, as the Lord had said:…………..from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do – 200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;

Xerxes – Leader without control

  1. He let Haman dictate plans and even “bribe” him.

3:9-11  If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business.”  So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.  “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”

Xerxes – Leader without control

“Xerxes did whatever he wished. He allowed neither conscience nor convention to limit his actions but acted with a perceived impunity. Such loose cannon leadership may well feed the leaders ego, but in the end it produces disarray and a sliding scale of justice. Lack of accountability to a set standard of values makes day-to-day living uncertain and even dangerous for those under such leadership.”- Leadership Bible

Xerxes – a Leader without control

  1. He let Esther go over board in killing people even after the enemy was destroyed.

–9:11-13  The number of those slain in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.”   “If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on gallows.

Praying for people in Positions

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people –for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
Timothy 2: 1-2

Mordecai – a leader with control

Proverbs 22:29 – Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings;
    they will not serve before officials of low rank.

7 key qualities of a leader who knows the controls


  1. Wisdom – 2:10
  2. Mentoring – 2:11
  3. Respect for authority – 2:22
  4. Refusing compromise – 3:2
  5. Focused actions – 4:1-3
  6. Caring enough to Confront – 4:13
  7. Confidence in actions- 4:14

1. Wisdom- 2:10

He acted with wisdom and was doing what was right in the given situation.

  • Esther 2:10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.
  • You should not tell a lie, but at the same time you should exercise discretion in telling the truth when it is not necessary.
  • Information should be given on a need to know basis

2. Mentoring- 2:11

He mentored Esther to a position of influence.

2:11 Every day he walked to and fro near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

Are you mentoring someone and are you being mentored by someone?

Who is your Timothy and who is your Paul?

3. Respect for authority-2:22

He protects King Xerxes’ life, unconditionally

2:21, 22  During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai.

3. Respect for authority-2:22

Romans 13:1-8 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 

4. Refusing compromise -3:2

He had the courage to stand for his convictions.

Esther 3 After these events, King Xerxes honoured Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honour higher than that of all the other nobles. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honour to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honour.

5. Focused actions -4:1-3

He took appropriate actions-praying.

Esther 4When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

6. Caring enough to Confront -4:13

We must have the courage to confront our closed ones

“He sent back this answer: ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.”

  • Matthew 16:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

7. Confidence in actions -4:14

He was confident of ultimate deliverance.

14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

7. Confidence in actions Daniel 3:16-18

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’

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