Leadership is a complicated thing. We see this in our world now and in the history of leaders all across the world. In the book of Judges, Israel is so far away from God and immersed in sin, that he appoints several leaders to rise above and lead. They all fall short of God’s obedience and plans, which is why he has to pick one after the other. While they are considered “heroes of faith” to many, their sin and pride cause their leadership to fail. Judges 2:16 says, “Then the Lord raised up judges, who save them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them.” Othenial, Gideon, Samson, Shamgar, Jephtah and Ehud, all failed in leadership. Deborah, a mother to Israel at the time, showed them how true authentic Godly leadership is carried out.
Deborah was recognized as a prophetess (a mouthpiece for God), a spiritual mother, civil leader and judge. Scripture says that she made her space for judgement under a palm tree. How inviting, right? I imagine her sitting under the cool of the palm tree, creating a non-threatening environment for people to talk about important and serious judgements and issues. Wouldn’t it bring so much comfort to be heard, seen and listened to by a leader like that? This is something not often seen today. People flocked to her for advice and was greatly respected by many. Her story consistently pointed to the God of Israel, unlike the other Judges. The most epic moment in her leadership was the battle against Sisera, both lead by Deborah and Barak. It was Deborah that won the battle, just as she had foreseen in Judges 4:9. Her poetic victory song in Judges 5 tells of Israel’s story and how God used her role for justice.
Through a listening ear, a heart of comfort, and a fierce & bold spirit, Deborah became one of the most powerful women leaders in the Bible.
God does not limit leadership to gender. I love that God chose a woman to lead and how successful she was in bringing the Israelites closer to God. So often, Jesus approached and treated women in the Bible with such tenderness and importance. The God of Israel called Deborah to a position of civil leadership and so much more, and Jesus called the women in the New Testament to a higher calling and purpose.
God watches our ability to lead ourself and others. He wants to give each of us a bold and brave heart to combat the fight for justice.
Biblical Principle: God appoints leaders for seasons and times. He is intentional with who he appoints! Regardless of how many times leaders fail, God’s grace covers them.
Biblical Challenge: How are you leading yourself? How do you lead others? Who are following in leadership and what makes them a good leader?