I wish you understood how funny that title is to me… I have a teenager that’s trying to make the phrase “debra” a thing. I think it means either cool or dumb or gross. Don’t ask, just go with it.
This post isn’t actually about anyone called Debra but instead it is about Deborah. This Deborah challenges me to be all that God has called me to be. This Deborah was a woman’s woman, a lady who took care of her family. It was out of her faithfulness in leading her family that she was seen to speak truthfully the Word of God with wisdom and authority. Her story can be found in Judges 4. She lived in a time when the Israelites were doing evil in the sight of the Lord and because of this they suffered at the hand of Canaan for twenty years. It was out of this that Deborah was leading Israel. Let me share the story:
“ Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethelin the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’” Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” (Judges 4:4-8)
The story doesn’t stop there but I’m going to. (Please,keep reading the whole of the story, you deserve it.) You see, what has been haunting me for weeks resides in those five verses of scripture. Something within me burns when I read the words that Barak speaks to Deborah,
“If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”
As a woman pastor these words are incredible to me. Here is Deborah, a woman, in a time in history largely dominated by male leaders, speaking the Word of God to a strong military male leader. Is his reaction to become upset or to tell her to “know her place?” Nope. He tells her that if she doesn’t go with him into battle then he’s not going.
Wait, what? This strong military man is afraid of going into battle without a girl!?!?!
This is a pretty unusual passages spoken by a man to a woman. It demonstrates a general’s great confidence in a woman who had risen to a high place in Israel largely because of one quality, her abiding faith in God.
Yea, that’s because Deborah is pretty BA. In the face of great peril, she points Israel back to the God who continually does the impossible. When she could have allowed it to go to her head, she instead looked back at God and gave Him all the credit.
Now let me be a little transparent with you, I often find myself feeling inadequate, especially to lead. Please tell me I’m not the only one. I can’t be the only woman who looks at other woman who are leading and compare myself: I’m not that put together, that intelligent, that fill in the blank. I have a habit of looking at what I’m missing, husband, kids, experience, etc. and wonder if I can truly lead.
Then I read about Deborah. I read about a woman who led strongly out of who she was and her relationship with the Lord. I read a commentary on Deborah and it said this, “A feminine woman, who never had had the ambition to push herself forward, Deborah better personified the homemaker in Israel than a warrior.” Deborah wasn’t necessarily highly skilled, extraordinarily intelligent, she might have not been naturally someone of significance. But there were two things that she was: 1. She was a woman of great faith and 2. She led out of who she was.
Deborah didn’t try to become someone else. She didn’t force herself to learn another way. Deborah didn’t become less feminine or run into battle as a fearless warrior. Instead, Deborah allowed God to use her as her. She lead, strongly, as the woman God intended her to be.
And that means, that I too can lead as the woman that God has always intended me to be. I don’t have to be anyone other than who God made me to be, seeking Him and His Word in all things. And it will be out of my faith in Him, my obedience to His Word and my courage to speak His Word out that I will lead. I can be the pastor He has called me to be.
Because… I’m so Deborah.