As I continued to contemplate on the impact of my mother, another mother that has had a great impact on me is one found in the Scriptures. The story of Deborah has a lot of life lessons in it.
I have found many in the Body of Christ confuse “roles” with “leadership.” They are very different! Anyone can be a leader – that is a heart decision, a “role” is a stewardship God has assigned. For example; the Scripture makes it clear that the role of the husband is to be the head of his household. So many misinterpret that to mean that he is the boss and the only leader in the family. That is not what that role means. The husband the one held accountable by God for where the family is (role) but hopefully both he and his wife are leaders. That will be a great benefit to the children. Some great leadership principles are found in the story of Deborah.
Many people, even ones that read the Scriptures pass this story by. Deborah does not seem that important in comparison to a “Moses" or a “David.” However we should never underestimate what one person can do.
Have you ever heard of Austin Gollaher? Most people have not, yet over 200 years ago he saved a young man from drowning. That man grew up to be the 16th president of the United States; Abraham Lincoln!
The issue that makes this story so important, is that like in Deborah’s day we live in world where – “Everyman did what was right in his own eyes!”
Deborah brings an answer to this question: What can you do when the people in authority do not do right?
First, we see that Deborah walked with God.
The other leaders of Israel had forsaken the Lord, but she remained faithful
Judges 4:1–5 Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. The sons of Israel cried to the Lord; for he had nine hundred iron chariots, and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years. Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment.
Everything else flows from here! If we continue to lead where God has called us to, no matter what else everyone else is doing we will find the blessing of the Lord on us.
Here is a good question for all of us: Am I taking responsibility for my own walk? Only you control that, not circumstances or even those in authority over you. A true leader keeps their walk no matter what the world is doing.
Second, Deborah waited on God.
Judges 4:1–4 Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. The sons of Israel cried to the Lord; for he had nine hundred iron chariots, and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years.
Judges 5:7 “The peasantry ceased, they ceased in Israel, Until I, Deborah, arose, Until I arose, a mother in Israel.
The oppression went on for 20 years, yet Deborah remained faithful and waited for God’s timing. This is very hard to do, because we humans want what we want right now. However, God’s timing is perfect, even though we may not understand it.
It reminds me of the old tale of the battle between the Cold Wind and the Sun. Each said they could get a coat off the man that was walking by. The wind blew and blew, but to no avail. The man only gripped his coat that much harder. The sun though, just shined and waited. In time…the man became hot and removed his coat.
So many times we are not willing to pay the price it takes to wait on God, a leader seeks God’s timing.
That gives us another good question: Am I willing to pay the price to see God move?
Third, Deborah was working for God!
Judges 4:6–9 Now she sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali, and said to him, “Behold, the Lord, the God of Israel, has commanded, ‘Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun. ‘I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his many troops to the river Kishon, and I will give him into your hand.’ ” Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.
Deborah could have just said yes she would go and not try to admonish Barak. However, as a leader she worked for God, not herself. There was no ego involved, so she tried to warn Barak that he would lose the honor if he insisted she go. This is a key to being a true leader, a servant’s heart. She relayed God's message as He had led. She did not complain to Barak that he was not obeying God, or that she had remained faithful when the other leaders did not. She did not brag about her faith in light of Barak’s lack of faith. She told him what God instructed her to do and even gave him warning of his missed blessing.
A true leader does not seek there own glory, but God’s! This leads us to another question: When I serve the Lord am I doing this to be appreciated?
Lastly, we see after the tremendous victory Deborah gives glory to Who it is due! She worships God!
Judges 5:1–3 Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying, “That the leaders led in Israel, That the people volunteered, Bless the Lord! “Hear, O kings; give ear, O rulers! I—to the Lord, I will sing, I will sing praise to the Lord, the God of Israel.
There is an important circle we need to see; as we yield to God we will get used, which will lead us to worship Him, which will lead us to yield even more, which will lead to being used even more…and so on! This is the “circle of life” the leader looks for spiritually. As we, like Deborah, live like this, it is a delight for our Father to view and it is the most powerful visible witness to those around us that are watching.
This leads us to one last question: Am I expressing my relationship with God in ways that He and others can see?