In today’s child-centered age, children and adolescents shine in the spotlight, and parents either play a minor role or act like idiots.
On the surface, this is also true of the Old Testament book of Esther. Her heroism is made possible, in large part, because of one of the book’s often-overlooked supporting characters, Mordecai.
Scripture doesn’t tell us about the tragedy that separated Esther from her parents. All we know is that Mordecai took her in “as his own daughter when her father and mother died” (Esther 2:7). Like Esther, Mordecai loved God. “Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her” (Esther 2:11).
Unfortunately, Mordecai’s devotion created an enemy: Hamaan. Angered by Mordecai’s commitment to bow his knee only to God, Hamaan hatched an evil plot to destroy him and his countrymen, the Jews.
Only Esther could save them by approaching the king and begging for their lives. With courage and faith, she enacted a bold and creative plan, but her success rested firmly on the foundation of her upbringing as the adopted daughter of Mordecai.
Whether we’re parenting children of our own or simply trying to be the best Christians we can, we can learn from Mordecai’s example. He displayed five admirable qualities that also impacted Esther.
He set an example by acting courageously. Mordecai distinguished himself when he uncovered and reported a plot to kill King Ahasuerus (Esther 2:21-22). Courage, like many other virtues, is learned best when modeled, and we can be sure Mordecai’s brave example made an impression on his young charge.
He did what was right, even when it cost him something. When the king’s edict dictated that all bow before Hamaan, the prime minister, Mordecai remained standing. To kneel would have been an act of idolatry. His bold refusal put him squarely in Hamaan’s crosshairs (Esther 3:1-6).
In a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to the truth of God’s Word, we, too, must sometimes take unpopular stands when society, culture, or even law requires us to do something contrary to what the Bible says.
He continued to watch and pray over Esther, even though his official responsibility to rear her was over. Many have a false belief that parenting ends when a child leaves for college. Mordecai’s example shows us we should always keep watch, albeit from a distance.
As my youngest daughter prepared to attend college, I gathered a group of friends with young adult children to meet monthly to pray for our kids. Regular prayer is one way to keep spiritual watch over those we love.
He challenged Esther to stay true to her people and her faith, even if it meant endangering her life. The privilege of being God’s children comes with the responsibility to speak up and defend God’s Word, his principles, and his people. This was true in Esther’s day, and it remains true today. Like Mordecai, we must remind our children of this when they face the temptation to blend into the crowd instead of standing with God’s people and doing what is right.
He trusted God’s sovereignty, but also recognized God uses people to accomplish his will. By challenging Esther to speak up on behalf of her countrymen, Mordecai invited her to take her place among the champions of the faith. “For if you remain silent at this time,” Mordecai said, “relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
We can’t presume to know how God will act in others’ lives, but we can remind them of the truths of Scripture and encourage them to step out in faith. By doing so, they may even discover their destiny.
God brought great deliverance to the Jews through Esther’s courageous acts. Because of her stand, she became a heroine of the faith. I’m convinced Esther wouldn’t have succeeded without Mordecai’s godly example.
As Christian parents, grandparents, and mentors, perhaps God has called us to raise the next generation of faith-filled defenders, “for such a time as this.”