Esther: "Seizing Opportunity"

Graceful Leaders - Biblical Encouragement for Leaders

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 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. 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 royal position for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:10-12 

Esther will always be remembered for seizing the opportunity to save her people from a 5th Century BC plot to exterminate the Jews living in the Persian Empire. Esther’s great beauty had led Persian King Xerxes to choose her as his queen.  Esther, an orphan, had been raised by her cousin Mordecai. 

A prominent prince in the realm, Haman, hatched the plot of genocide against the Jews following Mordecai’s refusal to bow down to honor him.  A gallows was built for Mordecai, who, earlier, through Esther, had actually saved the king’s life. Hearing of the plot against the Jews, Mordecai challenged Esther to approach the king on behalf of her people. Mordecai’s message to Esther carried these memorable words: “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?

Following intense prayer and fasting by Esther and her people, Esther was given the courage to approach the king, and through a series of spectacular events, Haman ends up being executed on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai, while Mordecai becomes second in command under the king. Jews remember these events every year in the Feast of Purim, which takes place this year on March 20. 

In the Bible there are two Greek words for time. The first, chronos, refers to everyday, ordinary time.  We get our word chronological from chronos.  The second New Testament word for time is kairos. It refers to a special time, a time ripe with meaning and purpose. In the NIV, “kairos” is translated as “opportunity” in Ephesians 5:15-16: “ Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity (kairos), because the days are evil. “

Christian leaders approach opportunities intentionally in three ways. First, we prepare for opportunities before they come. Preparation means we are poised by prayer, discernment, and resources to take hold of opportunities when God brings them.  Esther prayed and fasted before she acted. Second, Christian leaders have trained kingdom eyes that can see an opportunity on the horizon. A difficulty we have with opportunities, even those God brings, is that they often come disguised as unsolvable problems. An old adage goes, “Four things come not back: the spoken word; the spent arrow; time past; the neglected opportunity.” Opportunities can come and go by sheer neglect. The church needs more “Mordecai’s” with an eye for the timeliness of the moment. And third, when we’re readied for an opportunity and we see it, we Christian leaders need to seize it. There are no prizes for just being prepared and seeing opportunities. We finally must act, and, as with Esther, action usually means risk.

Seizing opportunities often takes courage. Christian leaders can be courageous, but so can whole churches.  A measure of our courage is how ready we are to see and seize God-sent opportunities. 

Graceful Leaders is a series of meeting devotions designed for staff and lay leaders of Christian congregations. The series uses Biblical leaders as embodiments of grace-filled leadership in the church. The series is written by Dean Nadasdy, President, Minnesota South District, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Copies may be made and distributed within local congregations.