Judge Debby she was not, dispensing criminals with a sarcastic barb and a wave of her hand. Instead, the biblical Deborah was a renowned prophetess, an honored judge, and an ideal role model for every woman called to lead others.
Three millennia ago Deborah convened her court under a palm tree where "the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided" (Judges 4:5). Undoubtedly their greatest disputes revolved around their oppressors, the Canaanites. Something had to be done, and Deborah was the woman for the job.
When she ordered Barak, her secretary of defense, to amass an army, Deborah made it clear who reigned as commander in chief: "The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you" (Judges 4:6). Unlike take-charge Jezebel, who sought no one's counsel, levelheaded Deborah obeyed the Lord and insisted his willnot hersbe done.
Even if our "army" is a small group of volunteers or a kitchen full of kids, we can learn from Deborah's leadership style by putting aside any personal agenda, listening for God's clear direction, and letting others know who's really running the show.
Fearless in Battle
As courageous as she was wise, Deborah promised to lure Sisera, the enemy commander, to the riverside and deliver him into Barak's waiting hands.
But Barak balked. "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go" (Judges 4:8). What's the deal? Was he a weak-kneed wimp? Or did Barak think the Lord would bless his efforts only if godly Deborah was by his side?1