The mentoring process has some specific costs to the mentor. Time and sacrifice are necessary for the relationship to grow, and the mentor must be willing to sacrificially give their time long before the protégé realizes they need that level of investment.
The setting for our next example occurs about 400-500 years before Jesus was born. God had punished both the nation of Israel and the nation of Judah for disobedience and idol worship by allowing them to be defeated by their enemies and carried off into exile.
The Jews had been settled in their exile for some time now, and their original Babylonian captors had been overtaken by the Persians. The current Persian ruler was King Ahasuerus. The book of Esther begins by explaining how and why the king was looking for a new queen. However, we’re going to look at the mentoring relationship between Mordecai and Esther.
A Jewish man was in the fortress of Susa named Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite. He had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the other captives when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took King Jeconiah of Judah into exile
Mordecai was the legal guardian of his cousin Hadassah (that is, Esther), because…when her father and mother died, Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter.
This was a great act of sacrifice by Mordecai. Scripture doesn’t record if he had other children; however, he treated Esther as if she was his own daughter. Let’s not skip over this phrase. Think about the first two decades of your life and remember everything your parents invested in you during that time. What decisions or adjustments were made with you in mind?
If you have children of your own, take a quick inventory of everything you purposely do to raise them. The late nights, the teaching, the training, the laughing, the development of skills, the failures, the coaching, the discipline, the love, and on and on and on.
This is the kind of sacrifice Mordecai made for Esther when he adopted her as his own daughter.
Esther was one of the young women selected to join the king’s harem, and it was from among those women that the king would select his next queen. Before Esther left, however, Mordecai gave her some particular instructions:
Esther did not reveal her ethnic background or her birthplace, because Mordecai had ordered her not to. Every day Mordecai took a walk in front of the harem’s courtyard to learn how Esther was doing and to see what was happening to her.
During the next year, the women from the harem would live in the palace and receive extensive beauty treatments with oil of myrrh, perfumes, and cosmetics. From among the women, Esther was chosen to be the next queen. After recording the festivities of her coronation, the author adds this detail:
When the young women were assembled together for a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the King’s Gate. Esther still had not revealed her birthplace or her ethnic background, as Mordecai had directed. She obeyed Mordecai’s orders, as she always had while he raised her.
Even if Esther didn’t fully understand Mordecai’s reasoning, she trusted him enough to follow his directions. Her willingness to keep her family history a secret for over year is strong evidence of Esther’s respect for the man who raised her. It was this same trust in Mordecai that would later lead to Esther having a significant, national impact.
From this part of Mordecai’s and Esther’s story, we see how mentors must go through life with their protégé in order to develop a strong relationship. Trust in the mentor’s ability to lead and guide their protégé doesn’t come overnight. However, the time and sacrifice will be worth it.