Lessons from Esther on the Common Misconceptions about Purpose and How to Avoid Them

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The Book of Esther chronicles Esther’s ascension to the throne as well as the exploits that she achieved for her people as queen. If you’re familiar with this story, and you’re anything like me, then you strongly associate it with a particular line- which can be found at the tail end of Esther 4:14-

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

If you’re not, don’t worry! I will be jumping into the meat of her story shortly. But, for now, I just want to concentrate on that scripture…

I personally love it because it speaks of purpose in the following ways:

It ties in with the actual definition of purpose

If you’re on my email list then you know that this is a topic that I’m really passionate about, especially as I’ve spent the last two weeks diving deep into it. (Not on it yet? No worries! You can hop on here). One of the things that we have been talking about during this time is the meaning of purpose, which can be defined as:

"The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists".

When the question in Esther 4:14 was posed to Esther by her Uncle (Mordecai), he was asking her to consider her purpose. The precursor to this was the fact that a man called Haman had advised her husband (the king) to have all the Jews in the realm killed, as part of an evil plot. “Why?!” you ask? Because he had developed a vendetta against Mordecai, who had offended him by refusing to “bow and pay homage” to him after his promotion, as others did (Esther 3).

Mordecai realised that, as queen, Esther was probably he and their people’s only hope for survival. He just needed her to see it! He therefore asked the question in Esther 4:14 to get her to see that the reason for her appointment as queen went deeper than just being the king’s trophy wife. God had, in fact, given her, her platform (position and influence) because He wanted to use it to save the Jews. This was, not only the reason behind her reign as queen, but the reason for which Esther was created and even came to exist.

Related: Lessons from Vashti on Obedience
 

It speaks of God’s timing

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says:

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven”.

 

It then goes further to say (in verse 11 of the same chapter) that:

“[God] has made everything beautiful in its time”.

 

I quote these scriptures because they tie in nicely with Esther 4:14 in that they all show that we were not only made for a purpose, but that it is meant to be fulfilled within our lifetime or “for such a time as this”. In other words, our time of birth; when and where we exist in the world and so on is no accident. Like Acts 13:36 says (and we see illustrated through Esther), we are called to “serve [our] generation by the will of God”.

It alludes to the idea of predestination

This idea of being:

  • Destined to fulfil a particular purpose or fate
  • Purposefully allowed to be born within a particular point in history

speaks of predestination, which is:

“The action of God in foreordaining from eternity whatever comes to pass”.

Scriptures such as Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 139:16 confirm this concept by stating that God fore-knew us before we existed in our mother’s wombs and also predestined us. 

These points also demonstrate that this is not a concept that was exclusive to Esther, or any other Biblical hero(ine) for that matter, but extends to everyone- including you!

But, in my experience of mentoring women and helping them to walk in their purpose, I have found that they typically fall into one of the following categories:

A

They:

  • Keep hearing that they're significant and that, like Esther, God made them "for such a time as this"
  • Want to be a "vessel of honour fit for the Master's use," like I talk about here

But, at this rate, they don't honestly see how....and they are fed up of being lost in such a haze of confusion!

Or-

B

They actually do have an inkling about what their purpose is but they're battling feelings of:

  • Fear
  • Unworthiness
  • Overwhelm (because they simply don't know where to start!)

Can you relate, lovely? Well, in the new year I’m going to be launching a mentoring programme to help you through these (there’ll be more about this later but, if you already know that, that sounds like your cup of tea, you can be kept updated here)! In the meantime, here are some common misconceptions about purpose and how you can avoid them:

misconception #1: The road to Purpose is Linear or 1-dimensional

As I said earlier, because I have been hearing Esther's story for years now, I strongly associate it with Esther 4:14- the moment that she realised what her purpose was. There is a saying that goes "hindsight is 20/20," meaning it is easy to see a sequence of events clearly after the fact. However up until this point, as far as Esther was concerned, her sole purpose for going to the palace had been to:

  • Undergo beauty preparations
  • Be presented to King Ahasuerus
  • And, hopefully, become his wife (Esther 2:2-4)

It is easy for us to look back at her story and see the important parts as being the moments that she:

  1. Became queen (Esther 2:15-17)
  2. Had an epiphany about the purpose of her role (Esther 4:14-17)
  3. Moved in it (Esther 5-8)

However, focusing solely on these parts of her story (or anybody's, for that matter) gives the false impression that the road to purpose is linear or 1-dimensional. In other words, it gives the impression that purpose discovery is an instantaneous process- when it's not. As Esther demonstrates:

Quite often, when it comes to purpose, one thing leads to another

In other words, becoming queen was (what I like to call) "the thing that led to the thing". She thought that, that was the main reason for her presence in the palace but it was simply a stepping stone into her purpose. This is also how the journey into purpose can be for us. It is a process with many winding roads. For example, in my life, discovering my purpose has led to me empowering other ladies to walk in theirs by sharing what I learned (and continue to) during my journey via this website. But then, these things followed:

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which then expanded to 1:1 sessions (as different ladies within The Far Above Rubies Collective started requesting it) first through email; then video/telephone calls. And now? In the new year I will be making these sessions less exclusive and widening the opportunity for participation (more about this later). Yet, this time last year? All I had in mind was launching this blog- nothing more; nothing less!

*Mind blown*

Literally what God has done to me and what He can do for you too if you are willing to do what it takes to "walk worthy of the calling to which you were called" also.

In the words of Tony Robbins, "Success leaves clues"

Because one thing typically leads to another along the journey to success, the past can hold clues to your purpose. For example, if we continue to talk about Esther, Esther 2:17 says:

"The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen..."

Yet this was not the first time that such "goodness and mercy" followed her. In the lead up to her becoming queen, Esther 2:8-9 says:

"So it was, when the king's command and decree was heard, and when many young women were gathered at Shushan the citadel, under the custody of Hegai, that Esther also was taken into the king's palace, into [his care].
Now the young woman pleased [Hegai], and she obtained his favour; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance. Then seven choice maidservants were provided for her from the king's palace, and he moved her and her maidservants in to the best place in the house of the women".

Verse 15 then goes on to say:

"Now when the turn came for Esther...to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai...advised. And Esther found favour in the sight of all who saw her".

Taking this look into Esther's past shows that, even before she was made queen, she was already regal, favoured and influential. She was already operating in her purpose but on a much smaller scale.

We, too, can look for clues in our pasts and use the common themes that we find to gain some insight into our purpose. For example, with me, I have always written. Even before I began blogging, I had almost 10 notebooks full of writing- including devotionals I had written to encourage myself. I would also share these with others, as the spirit led. 

Even before I began mentoring women in my online community (via all the means I mentioned earlier), I'd been doing it for my friends and family for years. Not to mention my degree in Speech and Language Therapy and almost 10 years of practice, which definitely set the foundation for applying a person-centred (rather than one size fits all) approach to my mentoring sessions...

There's so much more that I can think of, but I am saying all of this to encourage you to look over your own life and see how one thing has led to another. Look for the common themes in each thing. If you don't know your purpose, this exercise will give you a huge insight into what it could be. If you do, the things that you discover while doing this exercise will give you a huge insight into what will help you reach your next level.

misconception #2: Purpose is always about pursuing what you love

Perhaps, like me, when you’ve tried to figure out how to find the purpose of your own life, you’ve been posed with questions such as:

  • “What would you do for free or if money was no longer an issue?”
  • “What energises you?”
  • “What activity totally consumes you to the point that you forget to eat?” and so on.

Now, these are all very valid considerations as our purposes do typically require the use of our gifts, talents and skills. Also, given the amount of commitment that the pursuit of purpose usually takes, it is important that we are passionate about it. Hence, another platitude that you may have encountered in the hunt for your purpose is “follow your passion” (given in the belief that this will provide the fuel and sustained interest required to live both on and in your purpose).

Given the line of questioning that usually leads to the “follow your passion” prompt, I used to think of this in terms of only associating myself with the things I love. However, through observation and my own life experiences, I have come to realise that passion can also work in reverse. As I explained in my article for Thrive Global:

"We can “hate something” so much that we become motivated to “change” it and “make [it] better”. In other words, hatred can be a good thing if channeled positively in order to both serve and improve things for our fellow man. This was definitely the case for bygone people that we now hail as heroes [such as Esther]."

For she (being a fore-shadow of Christ) fulfilled her purpose by acting as mediator between the King and her people, saving them from death. She did this out of hatred for injustice. 

This was also the case for me when launching my website in late 2016. As much as I have the skills to write and love to express myself, like I alluded to before, I did so more as a form of therapy and actually had no desire to do so publicly before then. What changed this was my growing hatred of the social/religious constructs and mindsets that disempower women, keeping us from enjoying the same opportunities and human rights as men. Now I write to both challenge and dismantle these things.

So, when considering your purpose, from now on I want you to expand your thinking and challenge yourself. Although these are important, don’t just think about the things that you love doing. Don’t just take inventory of your natural skills and talents. Remember that passion can also work in reverse and that the things that you despise could also hold a clue to your purpose. 

misconception #3: You can come into purpose by yourself

In last week's email to my email list. I talked to them about one of my favourite personal development books- "The Wisdom of Andrew Carnegie" by Napoleon Hill. In it, Carnegie advised that two of the steps to major achievement and change are:

  1. Definiteness of purpose
  2. Choosing a mastermind team so that those in it can experience the benefits of synergy

We've already spoken extensively about how Esther's life demonstrates purpose (and it's importance). Now I'd like to dive into what her life teaches us about the importance of a mastermind. 

"Choosing a mastermind team so that those in it can experience the benefits of synergy" basically means that when two (or more) individuals unite and join forces in order to achieve a given purpose, they will be able to produce something that is exponentially greater than they ever could have done by themselves. People who fall into this category could be:

  • Your peer(s)
  • A mentor

Peers are great. They act as running partners because they are working towards the same (or similar) goals as you. However, where they may fall short is experience. So, for Esther, these would have been:

  • The other eligible bachelorettes that she entered the palace with
  • All the other Jews within the realm who helped her to fast and pray before she went to see the king (Esther 4:15-17)

Mentors, though, have typically already successfully done what you want to do. This wisdom and experience means that they can help you:

  • Take a more direct route to success (fulfilling your purpose) with tried and tested methods
  • Avoid falling victim to the same mistakes and pitfalls that they and others did 
  • And much more!

So, for Esther, this was:

  • Hegai who used his experience and knowledge of the king to advise Esther about what to request when she went to see him, thereby helping her secure her position as queen (Esther 2:15)
  • Mordecai who helped her to see the true purpose behind her journey so far and role as queen

Throughout my life but, especially along this blogging journey, mentors have played an integral part. I truly would not have come this far without them. But-

What about you, lovely?

You now know what purpose is and why it's so important. You also now know that:

  • The road to purpose is not linear or 1-dimensional
  • Purpose is not all about pursuing what you love
  • You can't come into purpose on your own but need a mastermind, especially mentors

Now it's time to put it all into action!

If 6 (weekly) one hour 1:1 calls with me, where I mentor you and help you:

  • Discover your purpose through skills/gift assessment (both past and present)
  • Unpick and bust through your blocks
  • Develop an action plan

And, like my mentors (and Esther's before them), also provide you with:

  • Clarity
  • Accountability
  • Spirit-led counsel
  • You-centred sessions (rather than a blanket approach)
  • But, most of all, results!

sound good to you:

You can click here to  join my email list, where you can discover more about your purpose and remain updated!