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Use Your Influence

Focal Passage: Esther 4:13-17; 8:3-8

One of the great joys I’ve had over the past three springs is being the head coach of my oldest son’s tee ball team. In fact, the season’s already a fourth of the way done. What a combination of challenge and real joy it is leading 3- to 5-year-olds to learn and love the game of baseball!

While I have many responsibilities as coach, one of my key roles is to put players in position to make plays. I must look at each player’s ability to play the game and desire to excel in the game. Then I put them into position accordingly. As the inning begins, I’m even on the field with them, coaching before, during and after the play. They must make the play, but they wouldn’t make the play unless I put them in the right place. That’s why the sports world honors coaches so.

God acts similarly in the lives of humanity. Please don’t misunderstand me. God is so much more than a coach! But, like a coach, He puts people in position to make a profound impact. God’s careful, sovereign oversight of history and humanity is called His “providence.” History, although seemingly random at times to us, is always thoroughly in the control of our God and progressing as He has planned for His good pleasure and unsurpassed glory and for the good of believers. Therefore, you are where you are not by chance. You’re in that position for a purpose — God’s purpose.

We see this biblical truth so beautifully illustrated in the life of Esther, who was put in position by God in His providence to make a profound impact.

Esther was a young, beautiful, Jewish virgin who lived in the kingdom of Medo-Persia, which ruled over the land of Israel in those days. A century earlier, Esther’s people in Judah had been conquered by the Babylonian Empire and taken away from their land into exile. However, near the end of the 6th century B.C., Babylon fell to the Medo-Persians (see Daniel 5), and soon thereafter, King Cyrus of Medo-Persia allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple. However, not all Jews returned, evidenced by the fact that Esther and her family lived in Susa, the capital city of Medo-Persia, which is in modern-day Iran and almost 800 miles from Jerusalem. It was there in Susa that God providentially moved to put Esther into position.

In Esther’s day, Ahasuerus (a.k.a., Xerxes) was king of the empire and became irreparably disgruntled with his queen. Therefore, he decided to search to find a new one, and through God’s providence, Esther prevailed and was crowned. God now had her in the position He desired so that when a plot came about to commit genocide against the Jews in the land, she was able to use her influence with the king to thwart the plot and save the Jews, God’s chosen physical people. God put Esther into position, and she acted accordingly.

I wonder what God desires to do with you in the position in which you find yourself. You’re not there by chance. God’s placed you where you are for His purposes, and every ordinary day provides an extraordinary opportunity to be a godly influence. Perhaps He’ll use you in a dramatic way to put a stop to some wicked plot like Esther. Perhaps He’ll simply use you to encourage somebody who’s depressed, to share the gospel with somebody who’s lost or simply be a living sacrifice to Jesus before others.

Whatever the purpose turns out to be, know that God has providentially placed you there so that you can use your influence for His good purposes. May you act and lead with boldness because of your confidence in your sovereign God!

-This article first appeared in the May 4 edition of the Baptist and Reflector, the official newspaper of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, as a commentary on the May 8, 2011 LifeWay Sunday School curriculum Bible Studies for Life, and can be accessed through the B&R website at http://tnbaptist.org/BRARticle.asp?ID=3813.  The article has been slightly edited here for westmainbaptist.com.

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