Deborah wears more hats than just about any other woman in the Bible – some 13 centuries before Christ. She’s a mother, wife, counselor, judge, deliverer, spiritual and political leader, and prophetess.
She knows what’s it’s like to sit in the boardroom and make tough decisions. And not only is she in the boardroom, she’s at the head of the table. She calls the shots. She’s the kind of woman who takes on more and more responsibility because she knows how to get things done. And she’s not power hungry. Just the opposite. She’d rather delegate, but she’s also not afraid to get her hands dirty when duty calls.
Deborah is ahead of her time by more than a few centuries. It’s completely unheard of for a woman to command the political, social, and spiritual authority in Biblical history. She’s the exception, not the norm. So does this mean that God will only use women when He can’t find a man for the job?
I’ve heard some Christians downplay Deborah’s leadership as an anomaly. It’s not uncommon to hear statements like, “Well, none of the men would step up, so God had to use a woman.” But when I read Deborah’s story, I’m just not buying it.
Let’s face it. God used Deborah because of who she was, not in spite of who she was. This shows us that God isn’t limited by circumstance, culture, or even gender. Simply put, God is ahead of our time.
I’m inspired by leaders today like Terry Morgan who challenge us to Care For Our Calling. Morgan identifies four threats to living out our calling – cliché, culture, comparison, and coercion.
Her words about culture resonate with my study of Deborah:
CULTURE: Having lived and worked internationally for many years, I have heard cultural excuses for limiting men’s and women’s opportunities and responsibilities. Although I have a deep respect for culture influences, Biblical truth is my greater standard. Every culture has wonderful richness that we can glean, but no culture is perfect. Some culture norms go strongly against God’s commands. Jesus acted very counter-culturally in His interactions with women, in His service to the disciples, and in His encounters with sinners. When I choose to go “against the flow”, it sometimes carries a price – from subtle scoffing to strong criticism – but my most important priority is to honor God… and sometimes I get to demonstrate a new healthy example for others also.
These words could have been written out of Deborah’s play book! Clearly, when Deborah led the men into battle, she was breaking more than a few cultural norms. I’m just thankful Deborah had the courage to go against the flow and honor God. She’s more than a healthy example for all of us!
Do you agree that culture can limit our calling? Has it limited yours?
[I’m on a journey to study and write about the working women of the Bible – the subject of my next book. I hope you’ll join me!]