Making the Case
Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:5-6)
Marriage experts often advise young couples, “Make ‘I’ statements instead of ‘you’ statements.” For instance, a person could say, “When dinner’s getting cold and I haven’t heard from you, I start to feel very worried.” This is better than the accusing statement, “You’re always late!”
Even in a crisis, Esther knew how to speak in a way that would engage her husband rather than offend him. She did not say, “You are such a rotten ruler! How could you sign a law that would lead to the death of your own wife?”
When Esther finally made her case (Esther 7:3-4), she remained:
- Humble “If I have found favor in your sight....”
- Respectful “...O king, and if it please the king... .”
- Non-threatening “...let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated.”
- Listener-focused “If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not be compared with the loss to the king.”
Rather than retreating to a defensive posture, the king was on the edge of his seat. Instead of attacking her accuser, Esther let the king ask the obvious question, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?” (v. 5).
After several days of restraint, Esther delivers her news: “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” (v. 6). Esther never attacked her listener, but instead, delivered her sober news in a way that would help him hear and understand it.
“I think sometimes the way we approach people in leadership explains why they do not respond in positive ways. We do not give them a chance to breathe. We do not give them a chance to think.” Nancy Leigh DeMoss