After receiving poor advice from Memucan and dealing with a power-hungry prince named Haman, King Ahasuerus must have been relieved to find Mordecai, a humble man of integrity. Even though the main character in the book of Esther is the queen herself, her cousin and mentor Mordecai is a constant presence throughout the book, acting behind the scenes, influencing outcomes without being conspicuous.
Here are some things we know about Mordecai:
- He was originally from Jerusalem but was taken to Babylon when his city was conquered (Esther 2:5-6).
- He raised his cousin, Esther, who was an orphan (Esther 2:7).
- He encouraged her to try to become queen, and he quietly advised her throughout the process (Esther 2:8-11).
- He thwarted a coup attempt by passing information to Esther which she relayed to the king (Esther 2:21-23).
- He incurred Haman’s wrath by being the only one in the palace who refused to bow to him (Esther 3:1-6).
- He notified Esther of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews and urged her to do something about it (Esther 4).
- The king eventually recognized Mordecai’s contributions and elevated him to be second in authority in the kingdom (Esther 6:1-11, Esther 10).
The characteristic which shines through all of these events is this: Mordecai didn’t have to be in the limelight to be productive. He was perfectly comfortable fulfilling a supporting function: providing guidance, sharing observations, warning of danger, and urging action, without having to be the decision-maker or drawing attention to himself.
Mordecai reminds me of Gideon, a Book of Mormon character who repeatedly provided good advice when King Limhi faced significant decisions. (See Mosiah 19:17-24, Mosiah 20:17-22, Mosiah 22:3-9.) On the last of these occasions, Gideon said, “O king, thou hast hitherto hearkened unto my words many times…. And now, O king…if thou hast hitherto listened to my words in any degree, and they have been of service to thee, even so I desire that thou wouldst listen to my words at this time, and I will be thy servant and deliver this people out of bondage” (Mosiah 22:3-4). Limhi decided to follow Gideon’s plan, and his people successfully escaped. Like Mordecai, Gideon comes across as a good observer, an effective communicator, able to contribute meaningfully without being the center of attention.
Today, I will follow Mordecai’s example by making quiet contributions. I will remember that the most influential person isn’t always the most visible, and I will be grateful for the opportunity to serve, even in inconspicuous ways.