Archive for October, 2007

Xerxes – Intoxicating Power

God’s plan for the Jewish people of Esther’s time could not have happened without the Xerxes father type.

Although benevolent to a certain extent, the Xerxes father should not be confused with a preferred fatherly role.

Xerxes was the ruler of the entire known world.  His word was powerful and it was final.  To a great extent he held the power of life and death in his hands.  He was prone to lavish, drunken parties that went on for months on end.  His wealth, power, and possessions were equally intoxicating to him.  If you made even the slightest breech of protocol, it would likely mean certain death.

Xerxes was easily swayed by his advisers, and wise men (religious leaders).  They often manipulated circumstances to achieve their own agenda. (Esther 1: 11-22)  Ultimately Esther became a moderating influence on Xerxes and as a result of God’s unmerited favor, was able to save herself and everyone associated with her (the Jewish people).

In recent years ther have been men in the news who exhibited the Xerxes father type.  Some that come to mind are Ken Lay and Bill Clinton.

The Xerxes father doesn’t have to be the CEO of a major corporation, or the President of the United States.  The Xerxes father just has what can be described by some as a “god syndrome”.

Xerxes fathers are always right, no one is to question his decisions, acts, or intention.  If he is questioned, he dismisses, demeans, and destroys.

Xerxes fathers surround themselves with Haman personalities and depend on Hegai personalities to feed their entertainment needs.

Xerxes fathers tend to dote on their children and overindulge them.  They assume, like everything else, they can be bought.  When their children get in to trouble, money can fix it.  When they wreck the car, a new one can be bought.  Values, although respected, are not on the top of the list of things to be learned.  Often the end justifies the means.

I have seen this type of father in the most unlikely places.  One of the worst was a maintenance mechanic in a plant where I once worked.  The “god syndrome” was so strong he was the only person who didn’t see it.  His nick name was “The Godfather”.

Dealing with the Xerxes father is actually easier than dealing with the Haman father.  The Xerxes father doesn’t feel the same sense of desperation as is exhibited in the Haman father.  If you think you are a god, what is there to be desperate about?

The problem with the Xerxes father is that today’s society values them.  They are put forward as role models until they fall from power.  Once they fall, they are never quite the same again.  The Xerxes father actually recognizes the potential for their fall from power and for this reason are very dangerous.  You can’t maintain the god image if you don’t have a kingdom to rule.

Turning away from the Xerxes father is difficult and usually involves an intervention from God.  “Great was the fall of them”, was a phrase my mother used, when I was growing up, to describe those who we now recognize as the Xerxes father.  Unfortunately, without the fall, the Xerxes father rarely makes the transition from god to servant.

As a father, if you exhibit the symptoms of the Xerxes father, begin to study what Jesus taught about servant leadership.  A great book to start you on the path is the book, “The Way of the Sheppard” (Leman and Pentak, Zondervan Press).  It is a quick read and if taken to heart can plant the seeds of true recovery from the dangers of the Xerxes father.

En Servicio Como Padre

Dave

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Hegai – The Keeper

Today I want to continue my series on the Fathers of Esther.

As you will recall Esther was a Jewish orphan that became Queen of the known world, and as a result, of God’s uncommon favor, was destine to save the entire Jewish people from genocide at the hands of Haman (see blog Haman – Unabashed Pride).

As I reviewed the book of Esther it began to be revealed to me that the men mentioned in the book were each a type of father to Esther.  It was not by chance that Esther was an orphan.  She was a child in a world of very strong adult figures.

Let’s see how the message of the “Hegai father” effected Esther and what it says to fathers today.

Hegai was a eunich, he was the Chamberlain of King Xerxes.  His responsibility was to be the “Keeper of the women”.  In my readings, I have seen where Hegai was described as a “repulsive old man”.  His role as the keeper of the women required him to maintain this type of image.  His role was to keep Xerxes harem in control.  As new concubines were brought into the harem, Hegai began to exert complete control over them.  They come with nothing and everything they were given was given by Hegai.  Everything, their food, accommodations, clothing, servants, beauty treatments, and counsel.  All controlled and dispensed by Hegai.  These young girls became totally dependent on him.

Because of this total dependence, Hegai drew every type of attention from these women, all designed to attract his attention and his favor.  Hegai was very careful where and with whom he dispensed his favor (today we would call it his political capital).

God caused Hegai to notice Esther and as a result, she was given the best of everything, including his counsel.  Hegai recognized that Esther would possibly become the new queen. 

Hegai knew King Xerxes very well, he understood his taste in women.  He was careful to invest his political capital where it would return great favor for him, both from King Xerxes AND from the future queen.

Do you know fathers like this today?  The Hegai father chooses his favorites among his children.  He gives the best to some and little to others.  He has time to share his wisdom and friendship with one but is just too busy to spend time with the others.

It’s not that he doesn’t love all his children, it’s just that he sees greater potential in one.  He thinks he can only “invest” his fatherly capital in one, so he chooses the one that will return the most to him.  The most pride, the most dependence, the most success.  Without it, who will take care of him when he is old?

The Hegai father destroys without meaning to.  It’s his singular focus that is so devastating to his other children.  If asked, he would tell you he believes he is a good father, perhaps great.  If you ask people outside his family, they to would tell you he is a good father.  If you ask his other children the, truthful, message would be something different entirely.

Anger, frustration, and loneliness are the hall marks of the victims of the Hegai father.

As you study your fatherly intent, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any traces of the Hegai father in you.  Although not as malicious and purposeful as the Haman father, the Hegai father can be just as destructive.  It tends to be somewhat latent and hides behind the praises of those who see him as a great father.  It is a pure case of “the end justifies the means”.

The tools of great fatherhood are already present.  With conscious effort, and heartfelt prayers, founded in a desire for true change, the Hegai father can be defeated and the damage done to relationships can be restored.

Seek out those in whom you can confide (admitting you have flaws as a father can be very humbling).  Ask for the prayers and counsel of strong men of God.  Most of all, ask forgiveness of your other children.  Remember, God is the great healer.

En Servicio Como Padre

Dave

Haman – Unabashed Pride

Haman – Self-absorbed, proud, deceitful and arrogant.  This evil father was abusive and neglectful.  He sought after the praise and adoration of man.  When it was withheld, he looked to destroy the offending parties.  Not only did he seek to destroy the “offender” he was so arrogant that he felt he should destroy any connection to the offender. (Esther 3: 5-6)  Erase them all from the face of the earth!

When questioned, by the great King Xerxes, about how he should treat a man that had pleased the King, Haman was so self-absorbed he thought the King could only be talking about him.  Thus, he easily fell into the trap set by the King to force Haman to honor his “offender”, Mordecai.  (Esther 6: 6-12) 

Haman represents many fathers in the world today.  They are focused on themselves.  Their interest is on their career and how they will acquire the next promotion.  They are intolerant of others they perceive as less capable than they.  They are abusive of their wives, children and subordinates in their job and society in general.

You see them everywhere.  They drive the finest cars, wear the finest clothes, they are covered in obvious bling.  Their arrogance shows in every experience of life, even in the way they walk.

Their children normally take one of several paths.  They fear contradicting the Haman father.  The abuse, physical or mental/emotional is too much to bear.  On the one hand, they become subservient and attempt to please the insatiable demands of their father.  They try to excel in sports, band, academics, whatever, not because they want to but because their father demands it of them.  On the other hand, might take the path of rebellion.  since they can’t please the Haman father, they do just the opposite.  They don’t even try.  Sometimes they get involved in drugs, trouble with the law, fail in school and life in general.  They lose all hope and value in themselves.  They reject their father and all he strives for.  They are sometimes all but disowned by their father.

The Haman father is so self-focused he doesn’t see the great fall coming.  Eventually, the people around him turn against the arrogance.  At this point, the Haman father succumbs to the destructive spirit that has driven him to this end.

The breaking of the Haman father is probably the most painful and destructive for both the father and his family.  The pride is so deeply a part of who this father is, that deliverance is long and marked by many setbacks.

The loss of respect by family, friends, and coworkers, is often too much to handle.  Drugs and/or other women are sometimes substituted to reduce the pain of rejection.

Turning to the healing power of God is the only answer.  I hope that many of the Haman fathers who read this will seek out help from God and God’s people around them.

I encourage all of you to look deep inside yourself.  Study your motives and actions.  See if the Haman father has established any place in you.  If it is present, take deliberate steps to change before you reach the cliff at the end of the road.  Seek help and encouragement from Godly men, some of which have tread this path before you. 

Unabashed pride is one of the most destructive spirits in the world today.  It is encouraged by our society and has no place in the heart of a father.

En Servicio Como Padre

Dave

The Multiple Fathers of Esther

I was thinking about fatherhood in our society today when something inside me made me think about the biblical story of Esther.  The book of Esther is the story of a young Jewish orphan girl who suddenly found herself in the courts of the most powerful King in the known world.  Through the favor of God, Esther made her way to the top position a woman could hold, in this society, and that was the position of Queen.  As a result of her position she was able to influence the King and save the entire Jewish people from certain genocide.

 

What does this have to do with fatherhood?  I asked the same question, until I went back and read the entire account of the book of Esther.

 

Esther was a young Jewish girl who found herself as an orphan after her parents died.  She was raised by her uncle Mordecai and went with him when the Jewish people were taken into exile in the Babylonian empire.  There they found themselves under the rule of the most powerful man in the known world King Xerxes.

 

Xerxes was prone to extravagant parties and was known as a very proud and intolerant man.  He depended on his personal advisors and wise men to rule his kingdom.  He would not take no for an answer and his word was final and irrevocable.  It was because of this inability to hear the word no that Queen Vashti, Xerxes wife, fell from his grace and a sudden search for her replacement brought Esther to the courts of King Xerxes. 

Once in the Kings courts Esther came under the control of a repulsive old man by the name of Hegai, she was threatened by the power hungry and abusive Haman, and was constantly directed by her uncle the protective Mordecai.

 

As I read the account of Esther, it struck me that these were the key male players in the story.  As I analyzed each of these roles, it became apparent, to me, that each played a type of father role to this orphaned girl.  Each, in their own way, was part of God’s plan for the Jewish people of Esther’s time, and each are exhibited in our world today.

 

Over the next few days or weeks, we will be exploring these father types and looking at how they are exhibited in our world today.  You will be challenged to look inside yourself to see if there is any part of each within you.  If so, perhaps you will be moved to seek a change in your life that may change how you approach you role as a father.

Join me as we follow Esther’s journey through the courts of King Xerxes.   

En servicio como padre

Dave

Quiet Courage

One of the things I always remember about my Dad, was how quiet he was.  If you have been visiting this site, you know I have mentioned his seeming lack of a need to talk.  My Dad was truely a man of few words.

Despite his quiet demeanor, my Dad was one of the most courageous men I have ever known.  His job was the custodian at the county court house.  In this job, he often met men who for one reason or another found themselves incarcerated.  My Dad would occasionally invite these men home to share a meal and to help them get their feet on the ground. 

Did I mention there were eight kids in my family?  A meal at our house was quite an experience.  There were eight kids, two dogs, at least one cat, and if you waited too long there was not a chance you could ever get seconds on anything.  We would fight over whose turn it was to wash the dishes or dry.  We would argue over who was to take out the trash.  You get the picture, if a visitor to our home were unstable, dinner alone could send them off the deep end never to return.  Yet my Dad brought them home and fed them, never fearing for the safety of his family.

As a child I never felt unsure of my security.  My dad could build anything, repair anything, hunt and fish and grow anything.  He was never afraid to try anything and never seemed to fear how he was going to feed a wife and eight kids on $200 a month.  He just did it.  If he needed something, he built it.  If we were hungry he grew it or shot it.

He faced men who were used to having their way.  They were intimidators, but they didn’t seem to intimidate my Dad.  He didn’t raise his voice, he just said what needed to be said and that was that.

Courage takes many different shapes. 

  1. There is the courage of William Wallace in Braveheart.  He was open and defiant in his courage.  His courage led people into battle when they barely knew what they were fighting for. 
  2. There is also the courage of Wilbur and Orville Wright.  They had courage based upon knowledge.  The took knowledge to it’s logical conclusion and dared to push it a little further.  This to could have cost them their lives, but their need to know fed their courage.
  3. There is the courage of Jesus Christ.  His courage was based upon his love for people.  He knew what his courage was leading him to face.  He knew so much that during that time of prayer, in Gethsemane, he sweat blood just thinking about what was to come.  His courage was quiet.  He did not say a word, he submitted himself to those who planned to kill him and did not defend himself.

It seems this world has too many people who are trying to force fit everything into their plan.  If their child wants to play baseball, they want them to be in the major leagues.  If they want to move from one lane to the other on the freeway, they take it.  If they want their food faster at the resturant, they make a scene and maybe even get it for free. 

Where have all the values gone?  This world rewards those who are agressive and take what they want.  It never crosses anyone’s mind that the free meal they got may have been taken out of the wait persons check.  It may have even cost that person the only income they have to support thier family.

As fathers we need to learn how to cultivate that quiet courage exhibited by men of the past.  We need to teach our children values by example.  If we are to raise our children to be the next great generation, we need to show them a better way.  They learn by what they see in us. 

En servicio como padre

Dave


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