If you spend anytime in the Book of Esther, you’ll likely notice that King Ahasuerus likes to make laws. In Chapter 1 alone, King Ahasuerus makes the following two laws:
- There will be no laws for drinking at his feast. “And drinking was according to this edict: “There is no compulsion.” For the king had given orders to all the staff of his palace to do as each man desired.” (Esther 1:8 ESV)
- Each man will be master in his own household. “He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people.” (Esther 1:22 ESV)
These laws are silly and the author wants you to see that. This is a powerful man (the most powerful in the world!) overlegislating to correct course and it is laughable.
Recently, I heard David Fletcher comment that people often make policies because we do not want to have hard conversations. A church’s HR policy should not fill a thick binder and cover every possible scenario. That is the easy way out and an unhelpful one. Instead, we should fight for lucid brevity in our policy creation and then deal with individual issues through direct conversations.
Much of the time, our reaction to poor performance or poor decision-making is to institute policies “so that this doesn’t happen again.” Sadly, I have done this and it always results in relational strain and frustration for both parties. Policy creation as a means of discipline is no fun for anyone. It also does not look like or sound like Jesus.
Kings of this world, like King Ahasuerus, go crazy setting up laws to uphold and protect their kingdoms and their preferences. Jesus, on the other hand, came to fulfill the Law himself so that his people could be free.
Are you prone to over-legislation in your leadership?