I can vividly remember sitting in the special “Just for Girls” class when I was in the 4th grade learning about the different women of the Bible and the different roles they played within society and the church. That’s where I first learned about Deborah, my favorite of all the women we learned about from this class. Deborah was a leader. Perhaps that’s the primary reason I admired her. Even at that young age, I felt the pull to take charge when things were not going right, and I had a deep desire to create change in the world.
Now that I am an adult, Deborah has been a reminder and model to me as I lead today. Her story is related in Judges 4-5 during a time when “the Lord raised up judges” to provide leadership over His people without a king. It was an era marked with violence and war due to God’s people’s disobedience towards Him. Deborah was God’s prophet and exercised complete religious, political, judicial, and militaristic authority over all of the people of Israel.
The two chapters in Judges are dedicated to telling how she commanded the army of Israel when it’s timid military commander, Barak, insisted that he was unable to do it without her. Together, along with the help of another woman named Jael, they led the army to victory over the Canaanites. Israel’s victory is celebrated through the Song of Deborah in Judges 5. Scripture ends Deborah’s story by complimenting her leadership, Judges 5:31b says, “Then there was peace in the land for forty years.”
I think it is important to point out that God chose a woman to lead His people in a time when culture was patriarchal. The Old Testament period was not the greatest time to be a woman. What that tells us is this: God calls people to lead. Male or female, each of us has special gifts and skills to further His kingdom.
There are other important women leaders in the Old Testament, and if you want to read more about them check out the stories of Esther and Miriam. When Jesus came into the picture in the New Testament, more than ever, the value of women as leaders was made known. Jesus wanted Mary of Bethany to stay at his feet when he was teaching scripture and contradicted the social norms for women which dictated that women were supposed to stay in the kitchen as Martha did. Also, God chose Mary Magdalene, a woman, to be the first to see His resurrected body to share the news with the world. The New Testament is also full of women in the early church who took leadership roles as deacons and apostles.
The undeniable truth is that the Lord invites each of us: women, men, the unloved, the undervalued, even those who feel unequipped, to use our gifts as leaders in our homes, in our community, and our churches to make Him known.
If you want to discover skills on leading well and influencing others, we invite you to join us August 9 and 10, at the Global Leadership Summit simulcast at TrueNorth Church. It is without a doubt the greatest leadership conference you will ever attended. More information and registration can be found on our Events page.