The Risk of Shepherding Well

Holly Culhane discusses the risks that can come from shepherding well by diving into the story of Queen Esther.

By Holly Culhane


She was an accidental shepherdess, you might say. Orphaned, kidnapped, held captive, and raped, this illiterate woman from modern-day Iran ultimately found herself Queen. The circumstances had not come from a Kate Middleton meets Prince William type of fairy tale, but by decree “to gather all the beautiful young virgins… in all the provinces of the Kingdom…  to the harem” – 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. Favor and kindness rested upon her, and after a year of spa days and selected foods, the King rested the royal crown upon her head. On the surface it seems like a happy ending to much trauma.


But Esther was a Jew. And as has been the case throughout history, a person of seeming authority wanted the Jews annihilated. The edict had been issued. A price was on their heads.


But Esther was also now a Queen. She had access to the King of Persia, the one person with the authority to overturn the pronouncement that, without full knowledge, he had authorized against her people.


Enter mourning Mordecai, Queen Esther’s uncle and the man who had raised her after the death of her parents. His anguish deeply grieved Esther, but even with a directive from this loving father figure to act, Esther was reluctant. Both she and Mordecai knew that approaching the King unrequested would result in her death if the King did not hold out the affirming golden scepter upon her appearance. She was unwilling to risk her life.


Mordecai replied with this challenge…

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” — Esther 4:14


The Queen faced more than a life and death decision. With no notice the day was going to be one of angst for Esther, she was being called upon to take a stand, to be willing to forfeit her life for the lives of her people. For all the Jews in 127 provinces. To take a risk and do what was right even if it meant death. To shepherd sacrificially.


It seemed that only Esther could demonstrate the provision, protection, and presence necessary for reprieve from the proclamation and the salvation of the Jewish people. This shepherdess was at a crossroads.


We are not unlike Esther. With no forewarning, as shepherds in every walk of life, each new day could be one in which we are called to sacrifice our comfort, our hopes, or our expectations when the Father calls on us to take a stand. Although the decision for most is seldom one of life or death, we can all too easily be tempted to fall on the side of safe. How often do we, as shepherds in the marketplace, in the church, or anywhere we influence, find ourselves at the intersection of speaking up or slithering away, of taking a stand or choosing mediocrity, of obeying the call on our lives at that moment or demonstrating doubt in the One Whom we say we trust for our eternal security?


Esther did not choose safe. If we believe God always has our best interest at heart, that He is indeed good and in control, and that we can fully trust Him, neither should we.

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Presence Point

Presence Point equips leaders to intentionally live into their calling as shepherds in the lives of those they lead, and partners with multipliers to do the same within their sphere of influence.

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