Who Are You Serving?
All of us have some level of influence. As leaders, do we use our influence to serve ourselves? Or to serve others? When we are given a level of authority, what do we do with it?
This weekend at NCC, I talked about the story of Esther and the ways that different characters used the influence they had. Haman wielded his power to serve himself. He used his influence with the king to issue a decree to have an entire people group eliminated from the pages of history. Imagine what a man with that kind of authority could have done. He approached the king with an idea and was handed the ring—the power and authority to speak with the king’s voice. But he used it to satisfy his own ego—to seek vindication, to seek revenge. When the king asked him how a loyal man in the kingdom could be honored, he described his dream—in royal robes on parade for all to see. Even with his family, Haman only seems to talk about two things. How the king has treated him well and how Mordecai has treated him wrong.
On the other hand, Mordecai and Esther sought to serve others. Mordecai’s character was established well before Xerxes even ascended to the throne or Esther’s beauty was noticed. He took in his young cousin and adopted her as his own. He used his position in the royal court to save the life of the king and continued to serve well and faithfully even when his loyalty was not acknowledged or rewarded. The last verse of the book of Esther acknowledges the great ways in which Mordecai served his people throughout his life.
Esther risked her life to approach the king and make an unsolicited request. In doing so, she would be accusing the king’s most trusted advisor—a man who seemed to get more audience with the king than she did. And she would be exposing the fault of his own legislation.
She listened to her cousin Mordecai. Esther 4:14, “For who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Where has God placed you? As a boss, as a parent, as a friend, as a leader…you had a voice in someone’s life. Do you use that position to serve yourself? Or to serve others?
My 16-year-old brother-in-law Josh Zempel is in town visiting us this summer. Every time he visits, Josh reaps the rewards of people who use their influence to serve him. He gets special meals at the Pentagon and backstage passes to the halls of political power and personal photography lessons from professional photographers. But this trip might have trumped everything. My friend Matt is in the show Promises, Promises on Broadway…which happens to star Josh’s favorite actress ever, Kristin Chenoweth. Weeks before Josh’s arrival, Matt had planned to get Josh backstage to meet Kristin after the show. After the show, Josh stood on the stage of the Broadway Theatre in NYC...which was cool enough in and of itself. But when Kristin Chenoweth emerged, the boy went stupid. And I quote, “I’ve been waiting 10 years to meet you, hi, I’m from Oregon.”
Matt used his influence to serve a 16-year-old kid that he had never met.
In Philippians 2:4-8, we see the ultimate example of influence serving others. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, And being in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Who are you serving? This is one of the most important questions we will face as a leader, and our answer will determine the legacy we leave.