Tucked away in the Old Testament book of Judges is an amazing story of an unlikely prophet and judge who lead the nation of Israel. Deborah is the only female to have ever led the Israelite people, and she is known as one of their most noble leaders. As both prophet and judge, Deborah exercised complete religious, political, judicial, and militaristic authority over the people of Israel. She was essentially Israel’s commander-in-chief. The Bible tells us that she issued her rulings from ‘beneath a date palm tree in the hills of Ephraim.’ What leadership lessons can we learn from her?
- Great leaders answer the call to lead. They don’t have to push themselves to the top, but allow God to promote them to a place of leadership. In Judges 4, the text reports that “Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.” Judges were appointed by God. Deborah answered the call and stepped up to lead.
- Great Leaders are not afraid to make a decision. They lead with boldness. In Judges 4, Deborah selects a general to lead the charge against a kingdom the Israelites are seeking to conquer. As Deborah prophesied, a battle is fought, and Sisera, the king, is completely defeated. He himself escapes on foot, while his army is pursued and destroyed. Sisera comes to the tent of Jael; and he lies down to rest. He asks for a drink; she gives him milk. While he is asleep she hammers a tent peg through his skull. Definitely bold and decisive!
- Great Leaders inspire their followers. In the heat of the battle, Deborah cheered her army on, assuring them the victory had already been given to them by God. Leaders encourage and inspire their followers. Under Deborah’s continued leadership and influence the people of Israel enjoyed forty years of peace.
Which of these leadership lessons resonates with you?