So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.” Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. Esther 3:10-11, 13
Haman had incited a riot in the king’s heart. Fueled by anger, Xerxes quickly acted on Haman’s provocative report. Haman could keep his money. The king was thankful for the heads up. In a fit of irritation, the king determined to destroy the entire Jewish nation that was spread throughout his kingdom. An estimated 600,000 lives were now imperiled. Why? Because a man with a chip on his shoulder allowed his anger and jealousy to smolder to the point of inciting the king and annihilating a nation.
Think about it. Xerxes did more due diligence in deciding the fate of his queen, Vashti, when she disobeyed than he put into deciding the fate of the Jewish nation. Regarding Vashti, Xerxes had a conversation with several advisors before he chose to banish her. More than likely, Xerxes was only consulting them to justify his actions, but at least there was a conversation about it. All things considered, Xerxes was a man who shot from the hip and was driven by emotional overreactions. Do you know anyone like Xerxes?
Reactors work harder at justifying themselves than they do seeking the truth. Little of this is actually intuitive. It’s more the adult version of pitchin’ a fit. Unlike a tantrum, however, these fits are far more damaging to those around.
Xerxes had no strong reasons to trust Haman. Haman was elevated to his new position out of relative obscurity. He had done nothing to merit such a promotion. Based on no evidence and no track record, Xerxes chose to trust Haman. There was no trial run. There was no fact checking. Haman just seemed to fit into Xerxes agenda: the preservation of himself.
Xerxes was accountable to no one. As a wealthy and powerful ruler, he could do whatever he wanted, and there was no one to answer to. It was lonely at the top, and that’s the way Xerxes liked it. No one would question his authority. No one would get in his way. No one would challenge his decisions.
Leaders play a unique role in any organization. Leaders are the people who do the things that other people refuse to do. Leaders make the tough calls and face the consequences. Insecure leaders, however, are dangerous.
Insecure leaders depend on their followers to prop them up. These leaders don’t want a meeting of the minds. They want affirmation. They will ask over and over and over again checking their perception of a situation. They aren’t asking for another’s perspective. They just want to make sure that they aren’t wrong and that others don’t disagree. These leaders surround themselves with people who will tell them what they want to hear. People with a difference of opinion tend to keep those opinions to themselves. What the leaders take as consensus is really just the result of the false world they have created for themselves. There is a whole other conversation going on that they are completely unaware of.
Haman successfully convinced Xerxes to his contorted version of the truth. It seemed that Haman was doing Xerxes a favor. Xerxes didn’t try to confirm the information with anyone else. Xerxes’ knee jerk reaction followed. He had accepted Haman’s plot hook, line and sinker.
Who do you trust completely? Why? When you are faced with bad news, how do you investigate the situation? How quickly do you act? Often a rush to judgment leads to foolish actions.
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