The book of Esther is in the Old Testament of the Bible and offers us some humbling truths about leadership (Thorne, 2016). Esther's story happens when the people of God are in exile, far away from God's Promised Land, and under the control of the Persians. Ahasuerus, the Persian King, tries to find a bride and chooses Esther, a Jewish woman. A man called Haman, who was a Jewish enemy and an official in the Persian Empire obtained authorization to extinguish the Jewish people. Esther's cousin, Mordecai, a Jew, seeks assistance from Esther; the now Persian Queen to protect his people but an obstacle was on his way. According to the law, no person could get the audience with the king except if summoned by him, and in the event, an individual who approached the king could be put to death if the king did not relent and give his ear. On her side, Esther feared to receive a death sentence if she attempted intervening for her people. However, Mordecai persuades Esther to speak to the king and tell her that God gave her the outer beauty for a purpose and it is through Esther that Jews people escape destruction by Haman.
Literature Review of the Book of Esther
The Book of Esther gives an account of intrigue and secretive relations in the royal palace and in various ways it describes secular works intended as the political annotation (Fox, 2010). The Jews were serving a foreign empire for the first time since their enslavement in Egypt. The Jewish people faced enormous difficulties to survive politically. It is the Book of Esther that comes and guided them (Thorne, 2016). At that time the Jews were under the rule of the Persian Empire, and Ahasuerus was the ruler, and the queen was Vashti (Satterthwaite & McConville, 2012). Ahasuerus organizes a lavish party and wants queen Vashti to display her beauty before the guests, but she refuses and to act as a lesson to all other women the king throws her out of the palace.
The king orders his soldiers to present all the beautiful young girls to him and among them was Esther, who the king chose to replace Vashti. Esther had no parents and her cousin Mordecai forced her to go for the presentation to the king. Even after getting favor in the eyes of the king Esther does not tell him that she is a Jew. Ahasuerus appoints Haman to be the prime minister, and Haman disfavors Mordecai, who sits at the gates of the palace because he declines to bow down to him and after Haman found out that Mordecai was a Jew he plots to kill him and all Jews in the empire. Mordecai finds out what Haman's plans were and together with the other Jews they mourn as well as fast, and Mordecai informs Esther of the plan and requests her to intervene with the king. However Esther fears death sentence and she and other Jews fast for three days (Satterthwaite & McConville, 2012). Esther manages to talk to the king and from the court records Ahasuerus realizes Mordecai saved his life and after learning that Esther was also a Jew and Haman had planned to exterminate all Jews including her rage overcomes Ahasuerus and orders for Haman's hanging on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.
The Leadership Behaviors of Esther
The Book of Esther has a range of leadership styles and prescribes what effective leadership is (Esther 10:3). Despite the fact that Esther feared death, she understood that a real leader is one who is willing to die for her people. Remarkable in the Book of Esther is Esther's behavior. Cautioned of Haman's plan, she wishes to do not a single thing lest she puts herself in danger. After all, Esther is an entirely "assimilated," even concealed, Jew (Satterthwaite & McConville, 2012). However, Mordecai reminds her not to imagine that she will escape because of her high position. Fortified by Mordecai's advice, a plea to enlightened self-interest, as well as the lone clue in the divine role's book, Esther's position existed as the Creator's doing for her to fulfill the task; endanger her life to stop the mass assassinations (Fox, 2010).
Esther acted wisely in her dilemma and chose the most appropriate time to speak. If she told the king about the issue while in court she would humiliate him and at the same time Haman would have time to dispute Esther's charges (Satterthwaite & McConville, 2012). Esther was patient, a precious and rare quality in many people. Even though she was distressed and enthusiastic to speak out her mind, she waited patiently for the right moment to speak. Esther was also brave. She spoke up bravely and pointed out at Haman who was wicked to protect her people. Her behavior was selfless because Esther acted unselfishly for God and the Jewish people. She risked her life by visiting the king without an invitation and pleaded with her spouse to cancel the awful edict (Nixon, 2015). Esther was modest, reserved, humble, quiet, and self-controlled and her mind, soul, body, as well as her actions affected the reality and brought change to the world.
The Leadership Traits of Queen Esther
Esther had exemplary leadership traits. Esther made good use of her position in the palace. She used her position to defend her people and not to manipulate or tear down (Burchard, 2012). On the third day Esther dressed in her royal robes and went to the palace court, and this pleased the king. Another trait is that the choice of Esther was for a time and that timing is everything. It is God who chose Esther to fight for his people. Mordecai told Esther that that was the right time to speak and if she remained silent the deliverance of her people would come from anywhere else but her lineage would perish. Esther also spent her time in prayer and fasting to ask God for favor and guidance (Carruthers, 2008). She also acted with a lot of courage and obedience believing in God to do what is right. Her obedience made her renowned and her story inspirational. Esther was humble, responsive and sensitive. Her inner light reflected a composite of two powers, burning sun-like desire as well as the cooling nurture of the water.
Leadership styles Esther in the Book of Esther
There are two main leadership styles in the Book of Esther; servant-leader and the leader-first leadership styles. In the leader-first approach, one cares for oneself; concerned with money, power, glory, and self-aggrandizement. Haman is an example of such leader. Haman's need for vengeance as well as an obsession with the extermination of the Jews led to his downfall. Mordecai, on the other hand, employed the servant-leader leadership style (Nixon, 2015). The servant-leader style of leadership puts the people one is leading first, occasionally even at high personal risk. Mordecai was a gentle and kind person who sought the good of all the people as well as spoke harmony to all people. Mordecai was proactive and did not wait until somebody asked him to act; he always did the best to find out what was necessary to do so that he would increase the propensity and welfare of his people. Esther too is known to have used the servant-leader style (Akinyele, 2009). She only became a great leader after realizing she was to sacrifice to die for her people in order to stop the murders, and she said that "If I must die, I die" expressing that she was ready to deliver the Jews even if it would cost her life (Brenner-Idan, 2015).
Implications of Esther's Leadership for Leaders
A leader should not dwell on personal issues but the prosperity of the people. As the queen, Esther understood that the only way a person can rule is not when you are controlling others, but by representing them. A good leader does not stop to be a follower as those he leads even after one becomes a leader (Friedman & Friedman, 2012). Good leaders do not seek fame, power or credit for any achievements for their followers. A good leader empowers his/her people. Leaders need to know that leadership is learned and everyone can learn to lead even in difficult circumstance to save lives of all people including the minority religious, racial and ethnic communities. From the leadership of Esther, leaders need to know that one can rule from an essentially weak point and efficiently work in a cruel structure without trying to alter the arrangement of the system.
Recommendations for the Leaders
Leaders should adopt the servant-leader style of leadership because the leader-first style is disastrous (Burchard, 2012). A leader must be willing to perish for their people. Leaders should not adjust the societal organisation but work to accomplish their goal of efficiently serving their people within it. Additionally, it calls for leaders to take courage, integrity, obedience, patience, and bravely to lead effectively. Leaders also need to be proactive and not reacting after something happens. Esther struggled through challenges to prevent the massacres from occurring.
The Christian Perspective on Esther's Story
Christians view Esther as sent by God to save his people that His son would come (Thorne, 2016). The Lord has a special plan for every person. From the book, it is sometimes helpful to go against what others tell you or your common sense, even what you want to for you to follow the will of God (Friedman & Hertz, 2015). Good leaders do not value power, material possessions, and credit for accomplishing God's plans. Christians also believe that there is an appropriate time that God wants us to speak and if leaders remain silent at this time, our people will perish. It is by doing things in the way the Lord wants that we get exalted. People should learn to pray for their leaders. Esther had a great challenge, but through prayer and fasting among the Jews, she achieved the will of God.
The Book of Esther describes that effective leaders are those who use the position for the good of their people. Even in challenging circumstances, leaders should find a way out to save their people by speaking at the appropriate time. Leadership means trading your life as a leader for the life of many other. Leaders should follow the example of Esther by adopting the servant-leader style of leadership and take courage to protect their people. Leaders should emulate humility, patience, obedience, integrity, bravely, responsive and sensitive for them to save their people. The book of Esther also teaches us that effective leadership is learning to represent people other than controlling them.
Akinyele, O. O. (2009). Queen Esther as a Servant leader in Esther 5: 1-8. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in leadership, 2(2), 51-79.
Brenner-Idan, A. (2015). The Israelite woman: Social role and literary type in biblical narrative. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Burchard, M. J. (2012). Toward deeper synthesis of Biblical perspectives In organizational leadership: A literature review of JBPL. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, 4(1), 171-179.
Carruthers, J. (2008). Esther through the Centuries. John Wiley & Sons.
Esther. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EstherFox, M. V. (2010). Character and Ideology in the Book of Esther: with a New Postscript on a Decade of Esther Scholarship. Wipf and Stock Publishers.
Friedman, H., & Friedman, L. (2012). The Book of Esther: Lessons in Leadership.
Friedman, H. H., & Hertz, S. (2015). Insights from the Bible about getting even: A primer for leaders and managers. Journal of Leadership and Management, 1(3).
Nixon, M. (2015). Servant Leadership: Queen Esther and Mary Kay Ash. ASBBS Proceedings, 22(1), 331.
Satterthwaite, P. E., & McConville, J. G. (2012). Exploring the Old Testament: A Guide to the Historical Books (Vol. 2). InterVarsity Press.
Thorne, A. (2016). the Book of Esther. Biblical Women in Early Modern Literary Culture, 1550-1700: 1550-1700.
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