Esther shows us that leadership is responsiveness to God and to those who are hurting. It is a readiness to self-sacrifice, and it has everything to do with character, intimacy with God, and closeness to those who are vulnerable.
Does the Bible really teach that men and women are truly opposites, with differing needs, desires, roles, and communication styles, as so many of these books argue? Are these gender stereotypes (which are clearly modeled after medieval concepts of chivalry or princess fairy tales) biblical and essential for godly relationships?
Having questioned the formulaic approach of so many other relationship “experts,” what’s left for us to do? Perhaps a return to the universal principles found in Scripture and the conduct modeled by Jesus is in order.
You’re not pretty enough. I’ve heard that voice in my head ever since I was a little girl. It didn’t matter if I got straight A’s, if my poem won a contest in school, if I succeeded in a spelling bee. As I grew older, the voice became more shrill when I realized that, according to culture, beauty was destined to define my relationships, as well as my inherent worth.
It can be disorienting to grow up with such strong messages about men, women, and “biblical” roles. At times it feels like an inescapable pressure. Because very little is overt, the pressure feels phantom.
Many know the story of Queen Esther from the Bible. However, often our own culture and struggles can lead us to “discover” lessons that are not part of the text, or miss important details that are. Often in churches, Esther becomes obscured to the point where this brave woman who was mightily used by God becomes passively subject to the decisions of men. For example, a marriage book released recently by a popular pastor and his wife used the story of Esther to promote obedience to one’s husband, contrasting disobedient Queen Vashti with a “submissive” Esther. Is submission to one’s husband truly the lesson of this narrative?
The book of Esther tells the story of a Jewish woman who rises from obscurity into the royal court as the new queen of King Xerxes. This narrative includes models of leadership that could not be more different from each other.
In the book of Esther, two extraordinary women leaders, Queen Vashti and her successor, Esther, confronted the patriarchal palace system, eventually acting as power brokers on behalf of themselves and others.