Esther was the original Queen of High Maintenance. An orphaned Jewish woman, she was one of those selected to go to the palace of King Xerxes of Persia and be groomed as potential queen. For 12 months, Esther was given the prescribed royal beauty treatment for all of the queen hopefuls. At the end of the beauty regimen, she was brought before the king, who favored her and made her his new queen.

Meanwhile, Mordecai, a government official who had raised Esther, exposed an assassination plot against the king. Soon after that, a self-centered man named Haman became the prime minister. As the king’s right-hand man, Haman demanded that everyone bow before him as he walked by. Mordecai, however, refused, which filled the prime minister with rage. When Haman discovered Mordecai was a Jew, he decided to destroy all of the Jews throughout Xerxes’ kingdom. He even tricked the king himself into launching the evil plot.

Mordecai quickly sent a message to Queen Esther, alerting her to the plot against her people. She asked the king and Haman to be special guests at a banquet she was hosting just for them. During the feast, Queen Esther found great favor with the king and he offered her anything she wanted—up to half of the kingdom. She simply requested that her guests join her for a second banquet the next day.

That night, the king couldn’t sleep. He began to read through the royal history books, and his attention was brought to the assassination plot Mordecai had foiled. As he read, he noticed that Mordecai had never been rewarded for his heroic effort, so he went to Haman to inquire of the proper way to honor such a loyal subject. Now, Haman, being the conceited guy he was, thought the king was referring to him, so he suggested an elaborate reward. The king approved and, of course, Haman was shocked to discover that his enemy Mordecai was to receive the favor of the king. 

Later that day at the second banquet, the king asked Queen Esther what she wanted—up to half of his kingdom. This time, she revealed Haman’s evil plot to kill the Jews and asked that he spare her people. The king immediately assented and ordered Haman to be hung. This is the story of Esther, the high-maintenance queen, who had been appointed for “just such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

True Beauty

The term high maintenance typically describes someone who requires a lot of attention in order to function properly to stay pleased. It usually refers to how much time you put into yourself, or how much time others have to put into you. You know you’re high maintenance if…

  • you frequent the cosmetic department looking for the latest and greatest miracle product.
  • you’re more dedicated to keeping your manicure appointments than your annual physicals.
  • you wake up at 6 a.m. to be ready for that special event at 7 p.m.
  • you can’t pass a mirror without checking in.
  • you classify a blemish as an emergency and give it urgent care.
  • you own at least a half-dozen pairs of black shoes and still need another pair.
  • having an audience doesn’t bother you a bit—in fact, you crave it!
  • emotional support always outweighs the need for support hose.

Being high maintenance isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you let it interfere with other important priorities. In the biblical account of Esther, we see how God worked through a woman of high social standing that, for her time and place, included – and even required – some serious maintenance. Had Esther refused the customs of the day, she wouldn’t have been in a position to help her people.

Today, Christians are called to live in the world and that often includes dressing to the standards of the culture around us to the extent that it doesn’t compromise our virtue (like modesty). As a matter of fact, taking care of your personal health and appearance can help you connect better to others and spread the Gospel more effectively.

But we must be careful not to use Ether’s story to rationalize vanity. Problems arise when being “high maintenance” means being selfish and self-centered, and when we begin to value physical beauty over spiritual beauty. When your looks become your top priority, you need to get over yourself and realize it’s not all about you.

So how can we battle the temptation to spend more time maintaining ourselves than our relationship with God? It's really quite simple: redirect your focus.

Balance the time you spend on yourself with the time you spend on others. Treat a friend to lunch and let her do the majority of the talking. Spend some time with your mom by pampering yourselves with a mother-daughter pedicure. Spend time with God in prayer. Give a sincere compliment to a colleague without expecting anything in return. Make others a priority, and you’ll maintain a high quality of life while living out the Gospel.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1 Peter 3 - 4


Adapted from 101 MakeOver Minutes by Tammy Bennett (Harvest House Publishers). Copyright (c) 2007 by Tammy Bennett. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Tammy Bennett has worked in the fashion, cosmetic, and television industries. As founder of MakeOver Ministries, she speaks and consults worldwide, motivating women of all ages to mirror God's love in their life, body, and soul. Her books include Looking Good from the Inside Out and Guys, Dating and Sex.