I stood at a crossroads in my life; struggling with being a business woman, ministry leader, and a mom. Seeking answers on how to be an effective leader in each of these areas. Like many women, I was trying to figure out how to care for those God had entrusted me with.
For women, who are intentionally committed to seeking God’s guidance in living out their identity and destiny, it’s important to have role models that you can turn to when you enter a new season of life. Through the years I’ve learned to turn to the women in the Bible to help me understand what God is saying to me about the adjustments I need to make in my life.
Deborah is one of those women for me.
Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth. She was judge over Israel at that time. She held court under Deborah’s Palm between Ramah and Bethel in the hills of Ephraim. The People of Israel went to her in matters of justice (Judges 4:4-5).
Deborah was a warrior woman. She was not only courageous, but full of wisdom. She knew how to lead, and that’s why God chose her to become a mother to the people of Israel.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible characterizes her in this way:
…until that Deborah arose, a mother in Israel; until it pleased God to raise her up, and endow her in a very wonderful and extraordinary manner with gifts qualifying her to be a nursing mother to Israel, to teach and instruct them in the mind and will of God, to administer judgment and justice to them, to protect and defend them, and in all which she discovered a maternal affection for them; and as a good judge and ruler of a people may be called the father of them, so she, being a woman, is with propriety called a mother in Israel, having an affectionate concern for them as her children.
The role of mothering was part of her identity and destiny. She balanced calling greatness out of those she led with patience when they didn’t yet possess her level of faith.
A great example of this happened when Barak, who was one of her army generals, was sent by Deborah into battle; he hesitated and stated he would only go if she would go with him. She knew God was going to give him victory, but she also knew he lacked faith in God. Deborah agreed, but since he would not go to battle without her, Deborah made it clear that the victory would be hers and not his.
That’s the kind of leader I want to be. Don’t you? I see the greatness in those I lead. I encourage them to step out and be bold, assuring them of victory. But they hesitate and want to stay under my protection. Although they are shielded in that safe place, they are not receiving all that is theirs to gain. They are missing out on THEIR victory!
As I sat at my desk pondering what God was teaching me through Deborah’s example, I noticed a bird’s nest right outside the window. For the next few weeks, I watched as the momma brought bugs and worms to the baby birds and as she chased menacing squirrels away from her nest. When it was time, I was able to watch as she nudged her babies out of the nest and into the air to take flight. She seemed calm and in control. I on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. Would they fly or crash to the ground below? The momma was not deterred one bit by my worrying; each baby, one by one, followed her lead and took flight.
That momma bird nurtured her babies with food and warmth. She helped them develop their senses and strength and then encouraged (actually pushed) them to take flight. She led her babies confidently, because she knew it was the best thing for them. She knew her role was to mother her young and then teach them to fly on their own. It is who she is and what she was created to do.
So the question for me was answered as I studied Deborah’s example and watched the mother bird. I am a business woman, a ministry leader, and a mom. Although each of these roles is different, I do all of them from a position of mothering. I teach and instruct those under my care, protecting and defending them with a maternal affection. I look for and call out greatness in each of them. Finally, I lead them to the edge of the nest. Right before they step off, I whisper, “You can do it. The victory is yours.”