Devotional For 2021 elder retreat: The Importance of the Everyday Work of Eldership
I have a son who is just days away from moving out of our home. As I contemplate my son living somewhere else I have thought about how I will keep in touch with him. Should I call often? Should I schedule weekly lunches? Should I give him his space and wait for him to reach out to me?
As I read Esther 2:5-14 there is one particular verse that really captured my attention. It is verse 11 we read, “And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.”
Every day Mordecai checked in with his niece to see how she was doing and what was happening to her. Wow, that is quite the display of dedication and devotion to do this every day. At first, one might think that this would be exciting. In some ways, there was a great deal of excitement about what was going on. In verse 9 we see that Esther quickly gained favor among all of the other women. She was provided many things and she and six other ladies were quickly advanced above all of the others ladies. One could imagine that during this time that there would have been many things that Esther would want to share with Mordecai during this time.
In many ways, the first year that this was going on it was not all that exciting. We are told in Esther 2:9 that Esther was quickly given her provisions and her cosmetics. And in verse twelve we are told that the first year was dedicated to a time of beautifying. For six months Esther would oil of myrh; and the next six months she would be given spices and ointments. Pretty mundane type of stuff. Yet, every day Mordecai would stop by to see how Esther was and to discover what was happening to her.
Verse eleven does give us a couple clues about why Mordecai came to see Esther every day. It was not see the physical transformation of his niece. It was not because he was curious about the gossip within the palace. It was not because he wished to use this moment to his advantage in some way. No, Mordecai did this every day and the reasoning behind this is profound. First, Mordecai wanted to know how Esther was. Secondly, Mordecai did this so that he could see what was happening to her. We read, “And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.”
We should appreciate the fact that Esther was taken to this palace as a result of an order and edict of the king and not because she had signed up for this. Verse eight makes this clear, “So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in the custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women.” Some of the key words in this text are: gathered, custody, taken into, put in the custody, etc.
What a comfort it must have been for Esther during all of this to have Mordecai coming to her every day to learn how she was doing and to discover what was happening to her.
The other night Mindy and I were watching a show that illustrated the importance of these special relationships. The show was about a lady who has gone from being indebted and poor to becoming one of the most successful business persons in her field. At one point in the show she began to get emotional as she talked about this one person who reached out to her when she needed it the most. She admitted that this person had no idea how important that has been to making her what she has become today.
Here in this text we see just how important this relationship must have been between Mordecai and Esther. There are some seasons in life when one conversation can mean a lot. There are other times when prolonged and extended care are required. Mordecai gives to Esther the latter type of care in this moment.
I would assume that some days they would talk for as long as they could, and other days the conversation might last for only a few moments. Some days Esther would have tons of things to discuss and other days she would speak only a few words. Some days Esther would be smiling, other days she would be sad, and still other days she might have been crying. In all of the drama of these things Esther had one thing that she could look forward too every day – seeing her uncle Mordecai.
At first Esther may have expected that there might be some days when Mordecai would not come. Perhaps it was raining so she thought he would not come; yet he came. It may have been cold and she thought he would not come; but he always did. There were times when he had been there and he seemed to not be feeling good so she thought he would not come the next day; but he always did. There were times when things at home got busy with the family so she told Mordecai not to come the next day; but he did. There were times when Esther told him that he did not need to come by because of her schedule; but he always came see a glimpse of her if possible. Every day he came and soon she took great comfort in it.
As a result of Mordecai’s faithfulness Esther may have felt disappointed, discouraged, and discontented if he had not shown up. Mordecai’s faithfulness, his devotion, his concern, his love would inevitably become . It would expected and even looked forward too by Esther. It would become normal, familiar and habitual.
Yet, if he were to ever miss a day Esther might become dis-stressed and worried. If he were not to show up as expected she might even find fault with Mordecai in some way. If she did not find fault with him you know that such things are often used by Satan and our enemies to plant a seed of bitterness in the hearts of those we never intended to disappoint and hurt.
Let me give you an example of this from the life of Paul. Could anyone ever really question Paul’s love for the churches? Paul received in his own flesh the sufferings of Christ for the churches (Col. 1:24). Paul never sought to use the church to fulfill his own evil lusts and greed. He was gentle like a father to the believers in the church, much like Mordecai was to Esther. Consider 1 Thessalonians 2:11, “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
Yet, it was to the Corinthian church that Paul had to defend himself because he had disappointed the church and the false teachers used this against Paul. We find in 2 Corinthians 1:12-24 Paul defending himself and his integrity before the church. He had told them in 1 Corinthians that he had intended to visit them but then he could not do so. So in 2 Corinthians he defended himself by saying, “...we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you...Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’ at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No...it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth.”
Who would have ever thought that someone could question the love that Paul had for the church. Who would have ever thought that his integrity could be questioned. Yet it was. This is why it is so important that as husbands, fathers, as friends, and as church leaders that we are as consistent as possible in such things.
As elders, there are days when our duties and responsibilities seem like a burden. The day seems too busy to do it. The struggle in other areas so easily distracts us from what we are to be for Community Church. The tasks and responsibilities seem to go unnoticed so why bother? The chaos in this world can be a distraction for everyone.
Mordecai did not try to do too much. He did the only thing that he could do and went to visit her every day. He did this often and without fail. Similarly, as elders, most of our tasks and responsibilities may seem inconsequential. But it is all the little things we can do that can really make the difference for those that we are serving. A little faithfulness, a little consistency, a little effort, and a little thought and action can make for a really great ministry to those who really need it.
Eldership is not an easy calling. It is not an easy thing to do. And I am not suggesting that we can do this with any success apart from complete reliance upon God. In God’s wisdom he has given this responsibility to a plurality of men within a church so that it can be done well as each men uses their own unique gifts. Some of these gifts are seen in very ordinary and little things. Things that are done that could almost go unnoticed. These gifts are given when we are obedient to fulfill the role of this office. There are other gifts that are engaged in which are clear expressions of the grace of God. James says that we are to call upon the elders to pray for the sick and to pray that they will be forgiven.