Tag Archives: Delay

The Thrill of Pursuit

“If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”
Esther 5:8 (NIV)

A number of years ago I was asked to speak to a group of middle schoolers. I costumed myself with the best secret agent look I could pull off and, after being introduced, I entered the room to the theme from Mission: Impossible being blared on the auditorium sound system. I then announced to the rowdy bunch of young people that I had a secret mission for them (should they choose to accept it), and there was one rule. When their parents asked what I talked about or what the lesson was, they could only respond with, “I can’t tell you. It’s a secret.” I told them that if their parents got upset, to tell them to contact me directly.

I then talked to the kids about simple practical ways to honor their parents, not because they had to, but out of a covert operation to respect, honor, and show gratitude for all their parents do for them. I also assured them that, if they followed my operational procedures, they would be driving their parent’s crazy wondering who kidnapped their middle schooler and replaced them with a well-behaved clone.

It was less than an hour after the night’s program ended that I started getting texts from curious parents going crazy because their kids were simply laughing and refusing to tell them what they’d learned that night.

That night was a lot of fun. I ultimately don’t know how effective it was at teaching kids about being respectful and honoring of their parents, but I certainly got everyone’s attention. There is something we human’s love about the thrill of pursuit, delayed gratification, and prolonged curiosity. One of my all-time favorite birthday gifts for Wendy was the year I started her off by letting her open one present. It was a GPS device on which she discovered there was a programmed route for her to follow. At each waypoint on the route, she found one of her friends waiting for her to get a manicure, have a cup of coffee, and etc. We love the tease of the unknown and the thrill of pursuit.

In today’s chapter, Esther uses the thrill of pursuit to heighten her husband’s curiosity about her request. Actually, Esther was following a common practice in ancient near-East civilizations when it came to making a specific request of someone in power. It was a culturally prescribed method intended to honor the one of whom the request was being made and to engage our human love of curiosity and the thrill of pursuit. We see the result in Haman who is excited to tell his wife and friends all about it.

In the quiet this morning I find myself thinking about the ancient practice that Esther employed in contrast to our 21st culture. I wonder how much technology and the instant gratification we enjoy for so many things in life has robbed us of the thrill of pursuit and the positive character qualities that are developed with delayed gratification. In the Customer Satisfaction and Customer Experience research my company regularly produced for clients we are finding that customers are increasingly expecting instant gratification to their desire to reach a human being in Customer Service or getting access to information they desire. I sometimes wonder if where it’s all leading.

I guess I’ll have to wait to find out ;-).

Have a great week, my friend.

Chapter-a-Day Esther 5

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

“If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request and do what I ask, please come with Haman tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for you. Then I will explain what this is all about.” Esther 5:8 (NLT)

Yesterday morning as I was sitting and waiting in the airport, something reminded me of an old Chuck Mangione jazz tune I’d not heard since I played the vinyl record of it on my turntable back in high school. I suddenly had the desire to hear that song again. I pulled up my iPhone, quickly found she song on my iTunes app and with a flick of my thumb I spent 99 cents to download it to my phone. From random thought to actually listening to the the song was probably little more than a minute. Amazing.

I can hardly describe for young people how much life has changed in the 30 years since I was their age. We live in an era of such instant gratification. Anything you want you can arrange to get almost instantly. No waiting. No patience required. If you have a smart phone and a cellular data connection you have the world and all of its goods literally at your fingertips.

I often wonder what affect this has on our souls and on our culture.

I smirked to myself this morning when I read of Esther refusing to tell the King and Haman what it was she really wanted. “Come back for another feast tomorrow, and I’ll tell you.” Brilliant. She builds dramatic tension. Gratification is delayed which only serves to heighten curiosity and a desire to know.

I love using that same device as a writer. Throw the question out there and then leave your reader or your audience hanging to find the answer. Last spring a group of actors showcased a few scenes of a play I wrote at an artist’s night. The scenes provided enough of the story to tease the audience with the dramatic question presented in the script, but did not reveal the answer. A couple of weeks ago a man came up to me and introduced himself, telling me that seeing those scenes drove him crazy that night. He immediately went home, pulled up the script on-line and read the whole thing. “I couldn’t stand it!,” he said to me with a laugh, “I just had to KNOW!”

There is something mundane in always getting what you want whenever you want it. It deadens the senses and chokes the soul. Delayed gratification is not a bad thing. It develops patience in us. It quickens the senses. It introduces hope, increases desire, and may even force us to exercise self-control. It makes the moment of gratification even sweeter. It teaches us to appreciate the ultimate reward.

So what is Esther going to ask the king? How is she going to save her people?  What is going to happen with Haman? You’ll just have to wait until next week. I only blog a chapter-a-day every weekday ;-).

Have a nice weekend!