Leading Under Authority: Part 3

 In Blog, Charles Cavanaugh


Leading from the position of being under authority can sound incongruous or unrealistic. After all, being under authority is about obeying and following, not leading. And while those of us under authority should obey and follow, our preconceptions about relationships, leadership, and how God works can blind us to the possibility of leading from there as well. Esther illustrates how wise subordination set us up, as it were, to have proper and effective influence, with those over us. And wisely using any favor we may gain with those over us makes our influence effective.

3. There is a third requirement for leading under authority illustrated by Esther. Let wicked people “hang” themselves. All of us have known the helplessness and frustration of seeing people with selfish motives, or people who seem to have it out for others work their way into favor with the boss.  How is it that those in authority fail to see the bad character of the unscrupulous, or overlook significant flaws that affect others (I suppose the answer to that question would be a good chapter for a book). Our tendency is to want to expose such persons and, if possible, have a hand in their demise. While there may be a time for testifying against such persons for the good of the whole group, as we will see later, ratting can often be counter productive.

In Esther chapter three we are introduced to Haman the Agagite. Haman was a shrewd and wicked man who was put in a powerful position by the king. He proved to be the epitome of pride, hatred, and bigotry. His anger over Mordecai’s refusal to bow before him was the impetus for a devious plan of genocide to destroy the entire Jewish nation.

We do not always get to see the wicked and unscrupulous come to justice in this life. Sometimes it seems they get away with their wickedness. And for a time it seemed that way with Haman. His favor with the king seemed secure, but it was to be relatively short-lived. His arrogance and blind self-centeredness was setting him up for a great fall, which we will see in our next point.

4. There is one more requirement for leading under authority illustrated by Esther (and by her cousin Mordecai). As one under authority, there will come those times when you must stand for what is right and leave the consequences with God. It was mentioned earlier that there is a proper time for passing on information about those who are undermining and destroying. It maybe also be difficult to know when to stand for what is right and speak out against what is wrong. It is important that the Christian develop a biblically sensitive conscience and prayerfully approach such challenges.

In Mordecai’s situation, it became obvious that silence and inaction were no longer good and moral options. The wholesale genocide of the Jewish people was evil an crying out for opposition. In Chapter 4, we see Mordecai’s open identification with his oppressed and persecuted people. His action did not go unnoticed.

But there was only so much Mordecai could do. He had put his neck on the proverbial chopping block, and as things stood it was likely to be chopped off. Herein is the significance of Esther’s involvement. Her early attempts were to comfort and quite Mordecai, apparently somewhat convinced that their hands were tied in the situation (4:11). After all, what could she do under the authority of a tyrant like Ahasueras?

However, Mordecai knew this was no time for reticence or inaction. The time had come for Esther to come to grips with her priorities. There are some things more important that security, safety, or even life itself.  And this was Mordecai’s challenge to her, and what Esther had to come see if she was going to lead under authority. Leadership and influence are often about timing and how one can be at bringing glory to God where he or she is. Mordecai’s question to Esther and the question we should consider is: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (4:14). God has put us where we are, at this time, for His purpose. The stakes may not seem as high as they were with Esther, but the challenge for you and me, if we are to lead under authority, is just as personally significant. This is no time for weak, reticent, security-seeking Christians. But for men, women, and young people who will stand for what is right and leave the consequences with God.

The rest of the Scriptural account though significant, is an addendum to the climatic turning point in chapter 4 v. 16. The nefarious Haman did hang himself. God changed the king’s heart. Mordecai was promoted to a position of prominence. And the Jewish people were saved from extermination. What would have happened if Esther had ignored Mordecai’s challenge? We are given a hint in chapter 4 v.13&14.  God can and will raise up those to use to accomplish his will and bring Him glory. He is not dependent on fickle humans. But if we fail to obey Him and stand for what is right, we will suffer the consequences and miss the God-given opportunity to be a part of what His is doing. Godly spiritual leadership is driven by a desire to do the will of God and to live to His glory. He has placed us where we are at the time in which we live. No matter what our position, leadership is not about us. It is about glorifying Him. Esther and Mordecai show us that the Godly spiritual leader stays focused on God and His glory and seizes the opportunity for Him. Wherever God has placed you, let this be a year of Godly influence and leadership, and make it your constant prayer that God will use you to exalt His Son.


Charles Cavanaugh



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