Hats, Handbags & Heels

I had a fun time sharing with the ladies at a brunch hosted by North Beacon Church of the Nazarene in Amarillo, Texas.  The theme for the brunch was Hats, Handbags & Heels in celebration of ladies in every walk of life; daughters, sisters, mothers, and the many types of work we represent.

Pictured L to R: Donna-Event Coordinator, Pastor Serina Nelson, me, and my daughter, Sydney

The room was filled with ladies of all ages and life-stations. They were there to celebrate friendships and family, and the worship helped prepare our hearts for a refreshing in the Spirit of the Living God.  We were poised for something positive to take home.

My presentation was entitled Elevator Shoes & Booster Seats: The Little Pick-Me-Ups of Life.  I discussed how the words we choose in our everyday language help frame our world.

Our words matter.

Words are the delivery system of the heart.

The apostles Matthew and Luke both recorded the words of Jesus stating, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matt 12:34; Luke 6:38)

WORDS are CONTAINERS.  Whatever we put into our minds are the ingredients with which we fill those containers.  Our words are the delivery system of the heart.  Our choice of words and the way we determine to deliver them combine to convey our message.

Our mindset determines our words.  So when we change our mindset by improving the content, subsequently, we alter and enhance the quality of our words.

The apostle Paul taught about our thoughts driving our words.  In his letter to the Romans Paul said we can be transformed by Christ so our minds are renewed. Addressing the Philippians, Paul said to have the same mind or attitude of Jesus in all our relationships. He also taught about focusing on Christ and on the good, positive things in life.

Because we know we can have the same heart attitude as Jesus Christ, even in the midst of life’s imperfections, we can still have a joyful heart.

I love to laugh!  In fact, I have a print hanging next to my vanity mirror that reads, “Laugh till your stomach hurts.”  I love this because laughter just feels good and this statement is reflective of what King Solomon said in Proverbs 17:22, Laughter works like medicine!

The week of this brunch the weather ran the length of the thermostat.  We had days of sunny, breezy 80s and days of cold, blustery wind and snow; all within a 36-48 hour period.  These weather patterns make getting dressed every morning an adventure, so for the brunch I chose to wear all dark blue with a lighter weight fabric.  It was too warm for leggings and boots, so I opted for sheer navy tights and pumps.  The car was loaded with my props and I took one last look in the full length mirror and I was ready to roll.

About three minutes before everyone began taking their seats for the program to begin, I tore my tights and created a run.  What could I do?  I took the platform and made the announcement we should have prayed against this, modeled the “wardrobe malfunction” and we all laughed and had great time together!

 

About three minutes before everyone began taking their seats for the program to begin, I had a wardrobe malfunction. What could I do?  Laugh!

Laughter works like medicine!(Prv. 17:22)
Exercise your smile today😂

Finally, let us choose our words well and deliver them as a gift to others. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Eph4:29)

Words.
Make or Break.
Hurt or Heal.
Destroy or Build.
The choice is ours when we speak or type.
Choose to HEAL, ENCOURAGE & bring LIFE!~Leah

 

 

 

 

Stepping into BOLDNESS

As I prepared for a meeting yesterday my thoughts moved to the way we pray.  I am talking about the attitude of our heart, as we approach God which drives the words we speak and how we say them to the Lord.

The writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 4, verse 16,

Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.

When we consider the words of this verse, let us consider the way we pray.  How do we speak to The Lord?  Are we full of self-pity, self-loathing, a poor sense of self-worth, complaints about our plight and the people around us?  If so, we are full of our selves and our focus is on how everything affects us rather than placing our focus on the Lord and the work of Christ.

Do we pray boldly?  This is not the kind of boldness attempting to manipulate God to do what we want (as if we could) but asking for God’s intervention in our circumstance, praying that His purpose be fulfilled and placing ourselves completely, without reservation, in His will to allow ourselves to be transformed into the people He desires.

While we like what this verse states, we cannot take it alone, because it is the completion of the two preceding verses, which say,

Having then a great high priest, who has passed through the   heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold tightly to our confession. For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.

When we come boldly before God, honoring Him, recognizing He calls us to Himself through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ which He provided; when we revere God for the ever-present, all-knowing and all-powerful God He is, we will then be filled with rejoicing no matter our situation!

When circumstances are difficult our emotions seem overwhelming, so our praise and worship become a sacrificial offering.

Let us always give a sacrifice of praise to God through Jesus. We do it by thanking him for all that he has done and also by talking about him. That is the sacrifice we make with our lips to his name. (Hebrews 13:15)

Speak boldly words of thanksgiving and praise, in prayer and in conversation.  When we face the most insurmountable circumstances and choose to worship God for who He is, we are offering to Him our most precious worship.

Our Lord desires to prove Himself in us and through us, in the mundane and in the miraculous, and everything in between!

Are we in a relationship with the Lord that is so close & intimate that we simply step into the recognition of His presence, knowing He knows us and we know Him?

I want to KNOW GOD as He knows me. I want to be wholly and completely His in a way that I am constantly aware of His presence. I want to LIVE HOLY, daily, and HIS GRACE EMPOWERS ME to walk uprightly & holy before Him.

When I wake each morning, I want to awaken with HIS songs in my heart. I want to step into the day knowing the GOD I serve, THE GOD of CREATION, THE GOD of MIRACLES calls me to HIS presence so HE can give to me, this day, EVERYTHING I need!!

I serve THE ONE, TRUE & LIVING, AWESOME GOD!!
May I be bold in my proclamation of HIM and may I pray bold prayers, KNOWING HE WILL ANSWER!

~Leah

Would you like to Value Size that?

“Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, please show me a face that is fair–at all!  Scale, Scale, on the floor, please show me a winning score!”

Who has NOT struggled, at some time, with their physical appearance?  Focus on physique permeates every aspect of our lives. Our culture places tremendous importance on physical image. It is difficult to avoid the trap of obsessing over personal appearance because enhanced photos of bodies and faces or surgically augmented shapes are strategically and consistently placed in our purview.

In this culture we attempt to equate personal value with a number; on a scale, on a clothing tag, a corporate ranking, or the number of digits to the left of the decimal in our bank account.  In doing this, we exchange our intrinsic value for something of much less worth.

Is our personal value really quantitative? An exchange assigning worth to both sides of the equation?

No. In fact, I maintain that the number on the scale is merely a “gravity monitor” (measuring the amount of gravity required to hold us on the ground).  A clothing tag is not indicative of one’s health, and the number of digits to the left of the decimal of one’s bank account cannot measure one’s intrinsic worth.  None of these is designed to, nor capable of, giving or assessing true value.

The skewed concept of worth cheapens the perception of our personal value and cannot satisfy our desire to be valuable.

With unrealistic ideas of personal worth conversations become driven by thoughts magnifying perceived inadequacies.  People bemoan these notions of personal physical atrocities hoping to alleviate their pain by hearing from their peers affirmations of their worth.

A person’s Legitimate Value is qualitative worth. Redemption.

Redemption. The exchange of something of equal or greater value for something else.

Redemption in everyday terms.  When you have a coupon for an item, you clip it and head out to redeem it.  If you stop at the bank and give a handful of coupons to the teller, he or she will tell you they cannot give you money for them.  However, if you go to the grocery store and fill your basket with the items, the cashier will ring them up.  The cashier will accept your coupons and take the discounted amounts off your total bill for the items for which you have coupons.

What makes the difference between the teller and the cashier?  Authority.  The teller did not have the authority to make the exchange, the grocery cashier did.

When we give our lives over to making a perfect appearance, no matter how perfected our looks become, we will never find life in that.

We must look to the LIVING to find our VALUE!

Jesus gave Himself as an offering of redemption for our souls.  When we give our lives over to Jesus Christ, we will find fulfillment and LIFE.

True value comes from one source, the CREATOR of LIFE, CREATOR of US, GOD ALMIGHTY.  Through JEHOVAH GOD, JESUS the CHRIST has the authority to make the exchange for ABUNDANT LIFE!

We are taught by the Psalmist in Psalm 139 that we are knitted together in our mother’s womb.  That means there is a Life Force who creates every individual.  That Life Force is God, the Creator, and John tells us Jesus was the Word of Creation and that God is the definition of love, for GOD IS  LOVE!

From Genesis to Revelation the Bible shows us the magnificence of The One, True and Living God, the Creator of all life.  We are the epitome of His creation.

Our VALUE is found in GOD alone.

Connected to GOD through JESUS CHRIST we find the reality of who we are.

Who we are is infinitely more valuable than how much we weigh, the size of our clothes, or the cash in our bank account.

Connect to CHRIST.

Find LIFE in HIM.

Know your VALUE.

#ValueSizedLIFE

Becoming … Extraction HURTS!

Sitting on the patio early this morning, I was basking in the warmth of early spring weather.  Stars twinkling and seemingly only moments later deep darkness paled to royal and periwinkle hues as the sun peeked over the eastern horizon.

Calm air.  Birds chirping.  Sprinklers irrigating the landscape.

A warm mug cupped in my hands, my heart absorbed and celebrated the sweet promise of a new day.

I closed my eyes and smiled in thankfulness to The Creator of this glorious morning.

My ears captured the sound of our pup’s little paws pressing through the grass, as he sniffed out what may have ventured into the yard through the night.

I listened.  Carefully, I listened.

Drinking in the aroma of wet grass, I opened my eyes to sip the dark umber brew of well-roasted Brazilian beans.

The sky grew lighter and the hum of nearby motorists became more prevalent.  Without warning, I was apprehended by the realization I was keenly focusing my attention to extract the sounds of nature from the drone of commuter traffic.

My thoughts turned to a Bible scripture I recently read in Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is known as the “weeping prophet” because he wept over the sins of his people.  It saddened him to consistently deliver to the people of Israel the news of God’s impending judgement as the result of their sins.

In one of his seasons of discouragement Jeremiah grumbled to the Lord, declaring God was like a dry brook.  This was only a short time after he had proclaimed the Lord was a fountain of living water.  Jeremiah’s emotions were like ocean waves rising and falling, sailing his words.

God responded with a reprimand for Jeremiah, instructing him to “extract the priceless from the worthless.”  If Jeremiah would be obedient in this, God would restore him as His spokesperson.

Extract the priceless from the worthless …

God was counseling Jeremiah about his speech because Jeremiah’s ability to communicate God’s message to Israel was the purpose for which God had created, ordained and called him.

How often do we have to sift through distraction of emotions to find the golden moments of God’s purpose for our lives?  All manner of distractions are the “worthless” for us.

When we learn to extract the GOOD from the okay and more so, the BEST from the good, we are enabled hold the best and let go of what is of little value.

How difficult it is to let go.

We often want to clutch tightly to something because we know it.  It is familiar, comfortable.  However, when we solidly grasp something we need to release, we lose; even when it is a good thing, something we love.  And, others are negatively effected by our decision to tighten the grip.

Recently, the Lord led me to release a piece of my life; what was a God-given, God-ordained focus.  It was a truly difficult decision to say “yes” to Him.  This thing involved a slice of who I am, a piece of the essence of what makes me, me.

Still, I knew by the Lord’s prodding, I needed to redirect my steps.

Extraction!

Painful release! Agony.  A moment of guilt.  Relief of stress.  Sadness of good-bye.  Freedom to grow.  Hope of the dawn of newness.  Tears  often still adorn my cheeks as I say good-bye to a fragment of my life, at least in that particular capacity.  Feelings.

Feelings, just as in Jeremiah’s dismay, fleet through our hearts passing to and fro, tossing us around the vortex of their whirlwind, randomly dropping us to recover from the dizziness.

Feelings cannot dictate right and wrong. They merely respond to the circumstances around us and to the decisions we make.  We make the choice of how to respond, in word and deed, to those feelings.

Change is difficult even when it is RIGHT … 

… and change can bring growth, when we choose to grow.

When we listen to the voice of our Creator we can be assured He speaks for our good.  God’s words to Jeremiah were to convict, not to condemn.  He wanted Jeremiah to be aware of his fault and repent from it, to give up what he was doing wrong so he could fulfill what God called him to do.

Growth brings change.  Rather than run from it, choose to become more.

Remaining the same will not bring the desired results of successful living.  Jeremiah heeded the words from the Lord and chose to change, to extract the priceless from the worthless, to allow his heart to be renewed in God’s love and kindness.  We can do the same.

Become.  Become what God has purposed as your destiny by enduring the extraction of the worthless, leaving it behind, and treasuring the priceless.  Your destiny awaits.

The Right Change

“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin.  Beginning makes the conditions perfect.” — Alan Cohen

Have you ever felt stuck?  Trapped?  Not in a bad place, just not in the right place?

I have.

Know this:  We will never go anywhere if we don’t start.

Change is difficult, even when we know it is right.

It is very difficult to find the “right time” to make a change.  You are confident change needs to happen.  You know you need to do it.  Still, finding that moment to make the shift is intimidating.

Timing.

Delaying brings frustration to us as well as to those around us. When we delay, we know we are in the wrong place, our fervor is stifled, and those around us feel that tension and hindrance, as well.  The surrounding circumstances are not going to come into perfect sequence in order for us to make the transition.  So delaying is not the answer.

We don’t know the whole of what awaits on the other side.  True. Yet, when we take action and move on what we know is right, we cause the circumstances to change and stoke the fires of the passion that drives us.

This is cause and effect.  There are two choices:  1) Delay and experience lack of fulfillment.  2) Act on what you know is true, move toward the dream and vision for your life, and meet the destiny God has purposed for you.

I had to take that first ENORMOUS step into the intense depths of the unknown about a year ago and I have not looked back.  God was calling me into something new.  It was HUGE!  I was intimidated. God knew what platform He had planned for me.  My place was reserved.  I just needed to go take it.  I did.

So let me encourage you, in the theater of God’s Kingdom, to step out in faith, into the darkness, past the footlights, and watch God put the spotlight on the path you are to follow.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.                                                          (Psalm 37:3-6)

TRUST in the Lord.  DWELL in His presence.  LISTEN to His voice.  MOVE in the direction of His voice.  WALK where He leads.  KNOW peace.  FIND true success.

Dedication

One of my cousins sends a verse to me every morning via text as a reminder of God’s goodness and grace toward us.  A while back, he sent this one:

“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.”  Hebrews 10:36

I like the verse because it talks of being dedicated to doing what God calls us to do and being what God calls us to be.  It tells us that when we follow God’s will, we reap the rewards of ALL He has promised.

Interestingly, this verse arrived when my Word for the Day was DEDICATION.  As I considered my own dedication and where it is applied, another scripture came to my mind.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.   Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:12-14)

The day’s theme appeared to be that in order to attain what we are striving for we need to keep the goal in mind, move forward toward what God has called us to do, and walk with perseverance and patient endurance along the way.

Although there may be an occasional roadblock, as we practice keeping our focus and continue moving forward we will find prosperity of all kinds.  Even greater than that of business and financial prosperity, we will experience success in personal transformation in the Lord.  When we persevere in the Lord, we find

Success is waiting for our arrival!

Step out.

Persevere.

Move forward in the Lord.

Find success.

Holiness. Can we find it? Can we BE it?

When I awaken each morning, it is interesting the many things running through my mind.  Still, no matter how busy the day is to be nor how late I may have worked the evening before, God, by His Holy Spirit, reminds me of Who HE is.

The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
The floods have lifted up their voice,
The floods lift up their pounding waves.
More than the sounds of many waters,
Than the mighty breakers of the sea,
The Lord on high is mighty.
Your testimonies are fully confirmed;
Holiness befits Your house,
O Lord, forevermore. (Psalm 93)

Who is God? He is Almighty. He is robed in splendor and majesty. He is merciful. He is gracious. He is kind. He is wonderful. He is Strength. He is Eternal. He is Holy.

What a thought that God Himself said to His people,

“Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.”

We are to consecrate ourselves to be holy, like God.  He said this to His people several times in Leviticus 11:44, 19:22, 20:26, and other passages.  Then Peter, in 1 Peter 1:16, quoted this same statement to the people of the New Covenant, the New Testament Church, you and me.  As I read these scriptures, I become intensely mindful of the importance to seek holiness.

We know it is possible for us to become holy because God has commanded us to do it.  Holiness is something to be grasped by us, a quality we can seek after.  While I will never fully reach that pinnacle of perfection that He is in this life, the GREAT NEWS is through God and the sacrifice He made for me through Jesus Christ, I CAN BE HOLY.

We know God has a marvelous plan for each of us and by His grace, He has provided a way for us to access that plan.  As we entrust our lives to Him, we progressively become more like Jesus as we seek Him and live out each day.

God desires to be found by us, so we pursue the Lord and He makes known to us His presence.  The prophet Jeremiah revealed to us that God wants us to seek after Him, so we can fulfill that plan to prosper us, when he wrote,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

In your daily endeavors, pursue God first. Pursue Him with the very essence of who you are; your heart, mind, soul and strength.

Seek Him.  Find Him.  Be Holy.

 

 

Goal. Objective. Purpose.

Goal. A statement of desired destination or intention.

Objective. How we plan to achieve our goal.

Here we are, January 2017, checking 2016’s accomplishments in the rearview mirror and looking through the windshield at the array of roads and deciding our destination.  To make that determination we need purpose.

Purpose. The “why” that motivates us to action.

Without purpose we lose our sense of direction, to be tossed about at the whim of every circumstance.  Instability.

Conversely, with purpose we gain FOCUS. We sit upright, belted in, on the right road and confidently accelerate forward.  Possessing purpose produces the “why” of what we are doing.  We have the vision, the goal, the objective, in mind and take action based upon the end result we have envisioned.  Stability.

Possessing purpose produces the “why” of what we are doing.

James, the brother of Jesus, addressed the concept of stability. In his writing he instructed when we place our faith in God and ask for His wisdom, He will give it to us freely, without reserve.  However, when we ask and then doubt, we are tossed about spiritually and emotionally. (James 1:5-8)  That doubt is derived from lack of purpose.

God creates each of us with purpose. He intentionally places within us a unique combination of personality, abilities, talents, and gifts and these components work together to fulfill God’s purpose.

As Christians, we know our purpose is set forth in the Great Commission, found in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life.  Our mission is to carry out the assignment to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, make disciples, baptize them, and show them how to follow Him. (Matthew 28:18-20)  With our individuality, we each address this mission uniquely.

Jesus taught that we, His disciples “…are the salt of the earth …” (Mt 5:13) Salt performs a specific function.  While salt adds flavor, it does so by changing what it touches.  Salt is used to cure meat products because it first kills microorganisms in the meat.  Secondly, as the salt is poured over the meat, it pulls the water from the inside, allowing the salt to enter and flavor it from the inside out. Salt is the agent of change to the meat.  When Jesus spoke about those who carry His name being the “salt of the earth,” he meant, as we (the salt) go into the world, we will change it.

Jesus pours the salt of Truth into us and it changes us, curing us of our sin and sinful natures. As we are continuously being cured for every good work in the Lord, we are taking that same salt into the world and pouring it onto others.  As we pour the salt of the Gospel into the lives of other people their lives are changed. We are to be the agent of change in this world for the Kingdom of God.

Our goals and resolutions are derived from our purpose and there is joy, along with the experience of satisfaction and accomplishment, which accompany fulfilling that purpose.

We each bring our unique flavor to the world by living in it and sharing Christ, salting our sphere of influence, making it different from when we arrived.

Know your purpose.

Stand firm in it.

Salt the earth.

Change the world!

Goals, Resolutions & Emotional Whiplash

As I look into this new year and finalize my resolutions, I keep coming back to the statement, “I resolve.”

People often discuss whether they make resolutions or set goals. This can pull on our emotions as we optimistically look forward and at the same time, feel trepidation about not being able to achieve what we have set forth for ourselves.

I set goals AND I make resolutions. Why? Because they are not the same thing.

The Oxford dictionary defines goal as the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. Whereas a resolution is defined as a firm decision to do or not to do something.

A goal is something external to go after, to get.  

When I set goals it is because I want to achieve something. For me, I have a vision of the direction I want to go and things to accomplish that will move me toward my vision. I set goals and objectives to achieve, which will systematically move me forward.

A resolution is a decision, a mindset, a heart attitude.

Along with that same vision for my life, I have things within myself to change, improve, or be removed. I identify those with resolutions.

A resolution is made within the essence of who we are. When I say, “I resolve,” I am saying, “I will allow nothing to keep me from making this change.” These internal resolutions will also move me forward and help me ultimately fulfill the vision for my life.

Beginnings.

The first book of the Bible is Genesis. Genesis itself is defined as the origin or mode of formation of something. The Bible begins with these words, “In the beginning, God … ”

January 1st.

TODAY is the genesis of this year, the formation of something new. TODAY, from the beginning of this year, GOD.

Beginning the new year TODAY reminds me that each of these 365 days matter. Whatever I choose to do with them, each day and each decision contains eternal value. Whatever I do, wherever I go, and no matter the circumstances each day brings, I want everything in my life to be for and about the One, True and Living God.

I posted on our Facebook wall yesterday (@VineSweetConnection) that 2016 was quite a ride for our family. I can still feel the emotional whiplash! Yet, here we are, STANDING and READY for 2017!

TODAY it is 2017 and my hope for us all as we embark on this year is:

We invite God’s magnificent presence to be made manifest in our lives, daily! The power of the Holy Spirit empowers us to carry out the purpose for which we were created! The love of Jesus Christ fills our hearts and compels us to draw others to Him.  May we experience the nearness of God in our lives EVERY day. May Holy Spirit’s presence be the bounce in our step, the twinkle in our eyes, and the sparkle of joy in our heart!

In all this goal setting and resolve, the vision cast for my life is a result of prayer and seeking after God’s purposes for my life. As you set your goals or make your resolutions or like me, you do both, prayerfully consider this:  Each day contains eternal value. What will I do with it?

A Knot in the Noose

I recently re-read the account of an influential person.  The story has a great plot and reads like a Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale.

Once upon a time … 

a regular teen girl of no fame or notoriety was pulled into the palace of the great king for the purpose of selecting a replacement queen, because the first one was banished for disrespecting her husband, the king.  The young unknown participated in a year long competition of poise and beauty and was selected the new queen of the land. The caveat occurred as she was placed in a difficult predicament of either surrendering her people of origin–a large population of the kingdom–to the evil conspiracy of one of the king’s confidantes, or surrendering her own life by addressing the king to save her people.  Her cousin convinced her she was the only person who might have the influence required to help their people.  This young queen utilized her influence with the king, saving her people from certain demise.  The evil conspirator and his entire family paid the ultimate price for his plot.  The happily ever after was the young queen lived out her days as queen of the land.

What a story! And, it is all true.

The kingdom was Susa and the King was Xerxes. The evil conspirator was Haman.  The young lady was Hadassah, renamed Esther, and her cousin was Mordecai.

This drama contains several lessons. Today my focus is on leadership.

In this account, Mordecai was influential among the Jews, a leader.  While he was sitting at the king’s gate he overheard a conversation between two of the king’s officials who were conspiring against the king.  Mordecai went to the palace and told Esther who, while in the throes of competition to become queen, informed the king.  The incident was recorded in the king’s chronicles and Mordecai’s reputation for loyalty and integrity was established.

Haman, the king’s adviser and confidante, advanced in authority and position.  Unfortunately, Haman had a fatal flaw, pride.

You see, Haman was in a place of authority he believed he deserved.  He had possession of the king’s signet ring.  Everyone knew who Haman was because of his position and paid homage to him because of it, everyone, except Mordecai.

Haman thought highly of himself. Thus, his jealousy burned. Veiled behind a counterfeit smile jealousy grew to envy, causing Haman to plot against Mordecai and all the Jews.  Haman wanted Mordecai and everyone associated with him to pay the price for not honoring him.  He spoke to his wife, Zeresh, stating that although he was brought into the queen’s banquet given only for the king and himself, it was not enough to satisfy his hatred  (Wow! That is some serious hate!)  His wife, along with their friends, told him to build a gallows and have Mordecai hung on them. Haman would be satisfied only by prohibiting Mordecai from being recognized, causing him to be dishonored, and killing him to make that happen.

Position. Influence. Pride. Envy.

Position does not make one a leader. Haman demanded attention from others because of his position rather than using his influential position to serve others.

In contrast, Mordecai led from the middle.  He had positive influence because he was loyal to the king, to Esther, and to his own people, the Jews.  He was a man of integrity who desired no destruction on anyone but instead hoped to save his people through his influence with one person.

Haman was preoccupied with pride in himself. He wanted people to celebrate him. His jealousy grew to envy consuming his heart with the desire to bring down Mordecai.

Esther gained her position because of her influence with Xerxes.  While Esther possessed outward beauty “of form and face,” more significantly, her beauty emanated from her heart. Esther’s heart was on others making her a positive force for the kingdom and for the Jews.

So how does the story end?  

Mordecai was honored and celebrated in the streets of Susa, wearing the royal robe Haman had coveted.  Haman got hung up–literally–on his pride. Haman and his family were hanged on the gallows he had intended for Mordecai, while Esther lived out her days as Queen of Susa.

Pride is the first knot in the noose and tightens with each jealous thought and act of envy.

If we possess position, we must use it to serve. Leading successfully means influencing others no matter our position.

Leadership is influence.  Influence with wisdom opens doors. When we draw near to God, He draws near to us.  When we seek God’s nearness, as Esther did when she called for a fast, we can ask for wisdom and He gives it freely.  Esther sought God to help her influence the king.  With God’s wisdom, we will also influence others toward Him.