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Lead by Faith-show up, step up, speak up

In February, I preached a series of messages on leadership. I looked at various examples of leadership from the Old and New Testament. With the exception of one, I purposefully chose leaders who were not the most visible or demonstrative. I attempted to look at the lives of common people who simply sought to lead right where God had placed them. Perhaps one of the greatest quiet leaders of all time was a woman named, Esther. She taught us how to lead by faith.

The book of Esther is named for the “star” of the story, a young Jewish girl named Hadassah who was taken from her guardian, Mordecai, and forced to compete for the affection of the king. This unlikely contestant for a beauty pageant was crowned queen of Persia and renamed Esther, meaning “star.” The events in the book of Esther occurred from 483 BC to 473 BC, during the first half of the reign of King Xerxes, who chose Esther as his queen. During this time period, the first remnant of Jews who had returned to Judah were struggling to reestablish temple worship according to the Law of Moses. But Esther and Mordecai, along with many other Jews, had chosen not to make the trek back to Judah. They seemed content to stay in Susa, the capital city of Persia, in which the story is set. This was an interesting time in Israel’s history. The days of Moses and Joshua were long gone and there was a sense of silence, to some degree, from God. The miraculous, apparently, had vanished for a season, the cloud by day and fire by night were no longer seen, and the people of God were left to wonder if God had forgotten them and if He would deliver them. Esther, in many ways, is similar to the issues we face today. The God who chose to part the Red Sea and raise Jesus from the dead has not chosen to exercise that same power so visibly in our day, but as in the days of Esther, God was at work. While we cannot always under stand where or how He works, but He is working. For the Scripture says, “Our God never slumbers or sleeps.”

This was the case with Esther. Although God’s name is never mentioned in this book, His presence and hand are clearly seen throughout. In the story, we don’t see God raise up a visible leader who does the miraculous, but rather a common woman, who was an orphan, and her cousin, who would play an incredibly instrumental role in saving the people of God as they lead by faith. There are four things Esther does that reveals how to lead by faith.

First, to lead by faith, you must show up! Again, even though God’s name is not mentioned in this book, His hand is clearly seen. One way we see it is by the favor He gave Esther. When Esther was taken and placed into the custody of Hegai, the one who had charge of the women, Esther had a choice. She could have drifted into the shadows, or have been resistant and difficult, or she could have shown up and sought to be used by the Lord. She chose the latter. She carried herself in a way that won the favor and blessing of those in charge of her. She was compliant and did all she was asked to do. She led by faith as she simply showed up and embraced the circumstances God allowed into her life.

Second, to lead by faith, you must step up! Esther showed leadership. In the story, she was made aware of an issue and brought it to the attention of the king. This was serious, for she had to be certain this was a legit threat, or else her life could be taken. In those day, no one approached the king unless summoned. Esther, humbly and boldly, approached the king because she knew God had placed her in that position for “such a time as this.” To lead by faith, you must step up and that is what Esther did. God gave her favor with the king and he listened to her.

Third, to lead by faith, you must speak up! As the situation for the Jews intensifies, a plot is made to annihilate the entire nation. Mordecai reminds Esther that she must speak up on behalf of God’s people. Esther bravely decides to approach the king again, and tells Mordecia, “If I perish, I perish.” Esther decided that she would rather die serving God than disobey Him and live. This is what real leaders do, they show up, step up, and speak up, even if it is costly.

Finally, to lead by faith, you must stand up! Esther had to stand up for herself, her people, and most importantly, her God. When she told the king about the fact that she was a Jew and that his most trusted leader, Haman, was planning to wipe out her people, she displayed true courage. The king, once again, listened and God used Esther to save His people! God saved His people through the most unassuming of all people. Mordecai and Esther showed up, stepped up, spoke up, and stood up; they led by faith!

This week, lead by faith, not fear, and watch God use you right where He has placed you. See you next week!

Jeremy Freeman

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The Newcastle Pacer

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