Friday, November 11, 2011

Office Politics and Career Growth 101 with Queen Esther

I recently found myself reading the book of Esther and was surprised to see some truths that apply very directly to the office world. To see what I see, I guess you'd have to think of being a queen as a job where the king is the boss.

1. Our career plans may not even brush shoulders with God's plans, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have great things in store for us. Esther was quietly being raised by her cousin Mordecai when, one day, the king issued a decree that forced her into the king's harem and on the path to becoming the queen. Sounds like a fairy tale, but I don't think it was. Mordecai told her to keep her Jewish nationality a secret, indicating that he sensed some danger in the situation. Also, several times throughout her story, Mordecai and Esther had to communicate through others, which tells me that she was not free to go see the man who raised her. Surely, she wouldn't have chosen this life for herself, yet later Mordecai asked her, "Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14, NLT).
2. A woman can succeed in a man's world. At the start of the story, the first queen, Vashti, disobeyed the king. The king went to his trusted advisers - seven men - and asked them what to do. Things didn't turn out in Vashti's favor. However, later in the story, we see Esther holding great sway with this same king. So much so that he trusts her over Haman, who was one of his most noble officials. The difference? Well, I'm not sure what Vashti's relationship with God was. Maybe the fact that it isn't mentioned indicates that it didn't exist? However, I do know that Esther depended on God for her salvation.
3. It's okay to disagree with authority as long as you do it with respect. Esther and her people had a problem. Haman wanted to kill all the Jews. He got the boss (a.k.a. the king) to issue a decree that on a certain day, all Jews "must be killed, slaughtered, and annihilated." (From Esther 3:13, NLT.) Yikes. A little more cutthroat than most offices. Esther was queen, but she didn't let that go to her head when it came to disagreeing with the king. She put serious thought and preparation into what she would do and how she would do it. Her respect for the king and for the customs of her culture helped her get the audience with the king that she so desperately needed in order to sway his opinion in her favor.
4. We sometimes have to ask for more. Esther managed to appeal to the king, and he had Haman put to death for his part in the decree... But that didn't solve the problem; the Jews were still looking at a day of slaughter. So Esther approached the king again and asked him to reverse the decree. It couldn't be done, but they were able to issue a decree that the Jews were allowed to defend themselves. If she hadn't been persistent and let the king know that she needed more, she wouldn't have gotten it.

Take a look at Esther. Do you see more lessons?

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