Where Do You Find Your Value?
Deborah Smith Pegues
Author, Supreme Confidence
CBN.com Are you trapped by your trappings? Have you surrounded yourself with things you feel others will value highly? This would be a normal indulgence for many insecure people. In many instances, they cannot afford their investment in their trappings. To boot, depending on their level of insecurity, they may even be found bragging about these possessions. People who brag about their accomplishments or possessions often doubt they will be accepted based on the personal value they bring to the table. Therefore, they feel they must divert people’s attention to something or someone they feel certain others will find impressive.
Such was Haman’s plight. King Ahasuerus had appointed him prime minister, making Haman the second most powerful man in all of Persia. He had everything a man could desire: family, friends, favor, fame, and even a fortune. His promotion to this lofty position, however, did not cure his sagging self-esteem and nagging insecurity. Boasting became the norm in his conversations—even at home with his family. Notice his end-of-the-day conversation with his wife and friends.
Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave” (Esther 5:11-12).
Me. My. Mine. Notice Haman’s self-absorbed conversation. The entire discussion is all about him. The man thrived on the recognition and the power his position afforded him. I have noticed the extreme self-centeredness and self-consciousness of those who have tied their internal security to their “stuff.” Like Haman, their conversations revolve only around the things that affect them. Sadly, his boasting revealed his search for significance. But the story gets worse.
King Ahasuerus had ordered everyone to bow in Haman’s presence. Everyone. However, when one insignificant Jew, Mordecai, refused to bow, Haman became so angry that he started to plot not only Mordecai’s death but also the annihilation of all the Jews. He decided to make a special trip to the palace to get the king’s permission to implement his plan.
When he arrived at the palace, however, he did not get a chance to make his request. The king had a pressing matter that needed Haman’s attention. As destiny would have it, Ahasuerus had not been able to sleep the night before and had decided to read some of the chronicles of events that had occurred during his 12-year reign. He read that Mordecai had actually saved his life by exposing two men who were plotting to kill him. The king had never expressed any appreciation to Mordecai, not even a thank-you note. Obviously a bureaucratic—but providential—blunder.
Enter Haman. When the king asked him what he would do for a man whom he desired to honor, Haman assumed the king was speaking of him. So he replied,
If the king wishes to honor someone, he should bring out one of the king’s own royal robes, as well as the king’s own horse with a royal emblem on its head. Instruct one of the king’s most noble princes to dress the man in the king’s robe and to lead him through the city square on the king’s own horse. Have the prince shout as they go, “This is what happens to those the king wishes to honor!” (Esther 6:7-9 NLT).
In today’s terms, what Haman asked for was to be seen in the king’s clothes, riding in the king’s car, and accompanied by the king’s companion. Oh, how honored he would be! Imagine the bragging rights these external trappings would afford him.
Ahasuerus loved this idea. “‘Go at once,’ the king commanded Haman. ‘Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended’” (Esther 6:10 NLT).
What? Mordecai? Haman was mortified! One cannot describe the humiliation that he suffered as he paraded this insolent, insubordinate Jew through the city square shouting his honor. Afterward, he rushed home dejected and disgusted. This time when he called his wife and friends together to recount the events of the day, there was no bragging about the upcoming private banquet with the king and queen. Events had taken a strange twist. They warned him that, in light of current developments, it seemed as though his days were numbered.
At the private banquet that Haman had anxiously anticipated attending, Queen Esther made the shocking confession of her Jewish roots. She proceeded to tell her husband of Haman’s plot to annihilate her people. The king ordered him hanged.
Oh, if only Haman had not been so insecure as to need everyone’s acknowledgment and admiration. If only he had ignored Mordecai and focused on the people who had honored him. If only he had ascribed intrinsic worth to himself apart from his position. If only…if only.
Snared by the Trappings
Haman is not alone in his pursuit of significance through external trappings. While many insecure people may not resort to bragging about their possessions and associations, they often invest inordinate amounts of money in designer apparel or other trappings. They name-drop about the important people whose coattails they are riding to significance. Their sense of inadequacy is obvious to even a casual observer.
I am careful not to judge Haman too harshly, for I know that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Many years ago I hitched my self-worth to a really sharp two-seat convertible Mercedes-Benz. I had inextricably linked that car to my sense of value. To add insult to injury, this little prestigious headache was in the repair shop almost as frequently as it was at home. It became a real source of friction between my husband and me as I clung to my right to own it. After all, it fit the “image” I felt others had of me as a successful professional. God forbid that I should drive an average car. Even though I could afford the Mercedes and its never-ending repairs, I felt I was being a bad manager of my God-given resources because the car was so pricey to maintain. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to disappoint the expectations of the relatives and friends who lived their lives through me, my accomplishments, and my acquisitions.
Finally, I sought the Lord to take the scales from my eyes and to heal me of the insecurity that was at the root of my need for this car. He answered my prayer through a ridiculously huge repair bill totaling several thousands of dollars and an ultimatum from my husband. I sold the car to the mechanic and refused to drive a Mercedes for more than five years. I knew a Mercedes-Benz was known to hold its value and was a good investment under normal circumstances, but I believe God allowed that car to be a thorn in my finances until I got to the point where I didn’t need it to validate my worth. When I decided to buy a Mercedes again, the motivation was purely investment driven. This fact alone made the purchase negotiations so much easier. I had the ability to walk away from the deal (and indeed did!) because the need for external validation was gone.
What about you? Are you a victim of the “Haman Syndrome”? Do you feel you have so little intrinsic value that you must make a conscious effort to have others focus on some impressive external trapping? Must you have the king’s car, the king’s clothes, or the king’s companions to feel significant? Do you feel less secure without them?
Ask God to give you the grace to emotionally disconnect from the need for this and to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have independent, inherent value simply because He created you for a sovereign purpose.
Excerpted from Supreme Confidence: Secrets to Bold and Fearless Living, © 2008 by Deborah Smith Pegues. Published by Harvest House Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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