Judges 5: 7-8
Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel. 8 God chose new leaders when war came to the city gates, but not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.
Song of Worship: Available to you by Melinda Watts
Happy Fourteenth Day of Thanks Everyone!
Today, I give thanks for woman leadership. It’s very different and unique, of course, if one is true to their femininity and nurturing characteristics.
Recently, I had the honor and privilege of being a keynote speaker at a women’s conference for young women political leaders throughout the Unites States. Every woman fellow at the conference was absolutely amazing in their own right and were doing incredible things across the country. As I was praying on what to share with these women in my keynote address, I decided that I would talk to them about one of my favorite women of the Bible, Deborah. I mentioned the many roles she had as a prophetess, wife, judge, military strategist, and songwriter/oral historian for her people.
The Bible lets us know that she stayed among the people, loved them and had their hearts. She didn’t judge their cases from some fancy office. She was in the elements, under her palm tree, among the people discerning and residing over their cases. Although, she had the military strategy on how Israel would win the war, she didn’t overstep her boundaries and take Barak’s position, as the military commander. She respected who Barak was and his position as the commander of the army and directed him to go to battle. Likewise, Barak respected her position as leader of the nation. She was a team player, offering to go with him to battle when he asked her to go. As a leader, Judges 5 shows us that in her leadership style, she acknowledges all those who sacrificed their lives and contributed to the victory the nation of Israel won. We also see that Deborah is not afraid to tell Barak the hard thing; that the victory of the battle would come through a woman, even though he would fight it.
Something I found to be particularly interesting is that she called and classified herself as “mother of Israel.” In Biblical times, a judge was the equivalent to The President of the Unites States or a King/Ruler of a Nation. Of all the many roles she assumed (leader of her nation, prophetess, wife, military strategist, etc.), she chose to say that she was a mother. This classification of herself denotes her acknowledgement of her femininity and the nurturing qualities of a mother. The Bible tells us that she loved the people and captured their hearts so much so that she motivated and inspired the people to go to war for their nation. Her defining herself as a mother and not any other of the roles she had, lets me know that Deborah was comfortable in her skin and knew who she was. She didn’t have to prove herself to anyone. In no place in chapters 4 or 5 of the book of Judges do we see Deborah’s authority being questioned or usurped by men because she is a woman. (Maybe modern-day men need to take a lesson from this book!) They looked to her for wisdom and listened to her instructions as a prophetess and military strategist.
During my address, I shared more about Deborah and then charged every women at the conference to assimilate some of their leadership style to Deborah’s. I told them not to be some distant leader who didn’t hear the voices of their constituents but to be on the ground among the people, making the people’s concerns their concerns. I told them to be bold and confident in their wisdom and when they didn’t have the solutions to seek wise and trusted counsel to help them navigate difficult situations. I reminded them to rest in and be comfortable with being a woman, feminine, and nurturing. We don’t have to be men or masculine or follow typical male leadership styles when we lead. We can be exactly who we are. I encouraged them to be like Deborah and always acknowledge the people who contribute to their wins/victories. Major victories in political and community arenas happen because of the efforts of many paid staff and unpaid volunteers. The final thing I asked the women to do was pledge what I am calling the Women’s Leadership Pledge. They had to raise their right hands and repeat these words after me:
1. I will no longer be deceived or trapped by the traditions and opinions of men. I can be feminine, maternalistic, nurturing and still be in a position of leadership and authority.
2. I am created for greatness! When opportunities are at my door, I will seize the moment and stake my claim in history.
3. I carry light and love to give back to the earth.
4. I will be hope for many who are oppressed and can't see their way out of darkness.
5. I will love, cherish, and encourage myself at all times.
6. If I don't have the solution in a moment of crisis, I will seek out wise counsel and trusted leadership to help me.
7. I will honor people and acknowledge their contributions to my victories.
8. I will not remain silent in the face of corruption.
9. I will not let past failures and disappointments hinder my progress or victory.
10. I will be open to ideas, insight and concepts that bring freedom to many.
11. The words that I speak will release life to a hurting generation.
The women asked me if I could send the pledge to them so that they could laminate it and hang it in vital places within their offices to remind themselves of the oath that they had taken. I thank God for the unique style of woman’s leadership and pray that every woman at that conference walked away encouraged and inspired to be comfortable in their skins and their own leadership style. Today, I invite you to donate to the Cheryl Porter Foundation at https://cherylportermethod.com/donate/, which provides an opportunity for young singers around the world to find their voice and spread love through the gift of song.
Have a Great Day of Thanks!