I love Biblical stories and the book of Esther never disappoints. Looking for some practical insights in how ministry or leadership couples can work together to have a strong and powerful marriage? Look no further than the book of Esther. The story begins with King Xerxes and Queen Vashti who reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. Obviously they were very wealthy and while staying at their vacation home in Susa the King threw a huge banquet inviting very important people such as princes, military officers and government officials.
He spared no expense and for a full 180 days (6 months) he entertained the guests. The decorations are described as exquisite and there was plenty to eat and the bar never closed. Entertaining was part of his job as King, but did it have to go on for 6 months? Can you imagine having a six month celebration?
If that wasn’t enough after the 6 month banquet he had another banquet and invited anyone and everyone. This time the festivities lasted seven days. Once again he spared no expense in the way of food and drink. King Xerxes entertained the men in the courtyard while the queen accommodated the women inside the royal palace.
Sometimes when my husband and I entertain the men will gather in one dining room while the women gather closer to the kitchen areas. When we entertain, I may breeze through the area to check on the men and usually they are talking about sports or politics.
Who knows what the King and the fellas were talking about when the King decides he wants to show off his beautiful wife wearing her royal crown. Rather than stepping away from the boys to go and get her himself, he sent seven servants to tell his wife to come. Why didn’t he go and seek her out himself? After all they had been apart for seven days. Where is the love?
We know the story, Queen Vashti sent the servants back to tell him she wasn’t coming. Who knows why she didn’t want to go, but if I were in her shoes I would not want to go in a room full of men who had been drinking for seven days. Besides I would have been tired from entertaining and would have wanted some time with my husband alone. When my husband and I entertain, we at least meet up at the kitchen sink to discuss how things are going or to discuss the schedule including what time the guests are going to leave.
Yes, Queen Vashti probably knew entertaining and being obedient came with the territory, but she decided to take a stand which made the King furious. I think he was more embarrassed than angry and since the servants informed him of her disobedience publicly, he had to redeem himself. He asked his legal consultants what he should do about it. He should have sensed that something was going on with his wife and went to check on her. Where is the love?
His legal consultants were fearful of the rest of the women following suit so they recommended that the King do something about his independent rebellious wife. They convinced him that if he didn’t put her in her place all the other wives in the kingdom would start acting just like her. The men didn’t want their wives to have a voice. Where is the love?
Vashti’s punishment for being disobedient to her husband was severe. The men recommended that she be kicked out of the castle with an immediate divorce and never be allowed to see him again. Seeing her again and speaking with her may have softened him so they made it a law that she could never see him again. How did he let his advisers decide he would never again speak to the woman who was so beautiful a few minutes ago? Where is the love?
Even though we know all of this happened so that Esther would eventually become Queen, there are several lessons to be learned from this story.
1. Don’t become so busy as a leadership couple trying to please everyone that you neglect one another. When duty calls for extended time period, take a moment to check in with one another for mutual support.
2. Don’t send someone else to communicate for you. It is not the job of your assistant or employee to communicate with your spouse on your behalf. Take the time to talk with one another and let the other know what your needs are.
3. Don’t let others decide the fate of your marriage. Talk to one another rather than complaining to someone else. Someone else’s advice may not be the best for your marriage. Talk to your spouse and work it out.
4. Lastly as leaders we should be setting the example, but use your marriage to set the positive example. The bible says in Ephesians 5 that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and that wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
If we simply follow these suggestions we won’t have to ask the question… Where is the love?
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach