Who Are You Listening To?
Who are you listening to? The answer to that question can make you or break you as a leader. As I shared the story of Esther this weekend, I encouraged NCCers to consider the voices in the lives of King Xerxes, Haman, and Esther and the impact that those voices had.
King Xerxes listened to the “wise men” of his kingdom and banished his wife Vashti…a decision he later regretted. He listened to the wrong people.
Haman didn’t even notice that Mordecai was not bowing down. In Esther 3:3, “Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, ‘why do you transgress the King’s command. And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman.” In verse 5, we read that he was “filled with fury.” Haman listened to negative voices around him which planted the seeds of jealousy and anger that eventually destroyed him. Later in the story, he listened to friends and family that nurtured his arrogance and pride. They stroked his ego instead of challenging him to serve the people. He listened to the wrong people.
Contrast this with Esther. She listened. She was teachable. When Mordecai instructed her to keep her ethnicity a secret, she kept her mouth shut. When Hegai made recommendations about her appearance and choice of clothing and jewelry, she followed his advice. When Mordecai challenged her to risk her life for the sake of her people, she accepted that risk.
Who are you listening to? Are you listening to people who tell you the things that you want to hear in the short term but lead to your destruction in the long term? Or are you listening to people who give you instruction and exhortation that may be uncomfortable and unwelcomed advice in the moment but will lead to growth and maturity and sustainability in the long term? Haman listened to people who told him what he wanted to hear in the moment but it led to his downfall. Esther listened to things that were difficult in the moment but led to life.
I once heard Andy Stanley say, “Your friends will determine the quality and direction of your life.” I have found that to be true experientially. And I have found it to be true Biblically. When Nathan confronted David about his sin, the king could have easily ordered immediate death for such a treacherous act. He could have silenced the prophet and his sin. But he repented. He listened to the right person. And that influenced the trajectory of his life.
Joshua had a Moses; Elisha had an Elijah; Saul had a Barnabas; Timothy had a Paul.
I’m thankful for people like Marti Pulliam who greatly inconvenienced my life in middle school by challenging me to establish a prayer and Bible reading strategy. I’m thankful for a Dave Buehring who challenges me to make tough choices now that will enable me to finish my ministry well in the future. I’m thankful for a Marva Adams who quietly but firmly brought correction to some of my views of what a godly wife should be.
One of the Proteges this week told me, “I love you enough to tell you ‘no.’” I hate and love to hear stuff like that all at the same time. Especially from Proteges.
We need friends in our lives who love us enough to tell us no. We need people in our lives who will confront us. Who confront what we are doing wrong. And to confront the gifts and passions that are lying dormant inside of us that need to be called out. We need people around us who have X-ray vision into our heat—that see and acknowledge the calling of God on our lives and encourage us to pursue it no matter how welcomed or unwelcomed that encouragement might be in the moment.
Who are you listening to?