Time & Relationship Management

“All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter.” Esther4:11 (NLT)

The Persian king Xerxes (or Ahasuerus depending on your translation) was a world ruler and likely the busiest men in his day. That coupled with his infatuation with his own sense of self importance apparently drove him to becoming a time management freak.

His ruthlessness in managing his priorities, to the point of killing anyone who dared to interrupt him, was known throughout the realm. Anyone wanting to do business with him or even any family member wanting to spend time with him risked their very lives in taking initiative to see him.

Imagine the fear of having to deal with, or worse yet having to live, with someone so task oriented and self-protective of his time? Watch out, if the old man is preoccupied, feeling overloaded or in a grumpy mood he could lop off your head for bothering him!

We would all be quick to agree that this is time management run amuck. It is a caricature of how detrimental it is when task management becomes exclusive of relationship management.

Wise time management is first and foremost relationship management.

The book of Esther, documenting the salvation of the Jews through the efforts of Mordecai and Queen Esther, is a great study in the priority of relationship management.

Making Peace With Your Past

When was the last time you ran into someone you preferred not to see? What thoughts went through your mind and what emotions did you feel? How did you handle it?
We all have people like that in our lives. In fact it happened to me just recently. I was surprised at my reaction. Stuff from the past I had either forgotten or thought I had dealt with surfaced. I found myself swallowing hard, composing myself and mustering up the grace to make friendly conversation. But there was a reserve in my heart and a measure of self protection that was unsettling for me.
Afterward I could not help but sense that God had engineered the encounter to get my attention and that it was not a mere coincidence or happenstance that I was faced with relating to that particular person. In fact having just given a message (Connecting the Dots) about the Jewish patriarch Isaac making peace with his past, I had been sensitized to the necessity of that process in my own life.
Isaac’s story in Genesis 26 of his conflict and rejection at the hands of Abimelech, king of the Philistines, is really not unlike any of our stories when our relationships with people go south. It thrust him into a season of adversity and adjustments that God ultimately used for good in his life. My previous blog posts on “Connecting the Dots in Adversity” and “When Adversity Forces a Defining Decision” chronicle that journey.
What I discovered when I gave my message was that Isaac’s story was not complete without the closure God forced upon him after he had settled and forgotten all about Abimelech. Abimelech shows up unexpectedly, accompanied by both his personal advisor and the commander of his army. Talk about an intimidating encounter and one that Isaac would have preferred to avoid. All of the past hurt and personal offense surface immediately and Isaac reacts with “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?” (vs. 27) He wasn’t as adept at hiding his emotions as many of us can be when confronted with the remembrance of past wounds in relationships.

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