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Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
Leadership is a heavy responsibility, and God expects men to carry it.
The assumption, in many of the discussions about male vs. female leadership in the home and in the church, is that leadership is a right that is being denied to women. But many men, when they hear that position, think to themselves, “You want this job? You want all these headaches? You can have it lady.” Millions of men have done just that. They’ve stepped back to let the women take over. But, leadership isn’t a right, it’s a responsibility. It’s a heavy one. And God expects men not to shy away from it.
Nowhere do we see that more clearly than in Judges 4:4-9, the story of Deborah, one of the greatest leading ladies of Scripture.
The period of the Judges was a tumultuous time in Israel. From time to time, people with special gifting from God would rise to the top. Sometimes they were singled out by God, like Samson and Gideon. Others would just emerge. Deborah was one of those. They were called judges, but not in the way that we think of judges. They didn’t have official authority, but they had a lot of personal authority. People trusted their counsel and followed their lead.
Deborah was a homemaker but also a woman of God, a woman of deep faith. She developed a reputation as a person of insight and understanding. People began to seek her out for counsel. Her popularity grew to the point that she “held court” under a large palm tree on a major road. “The Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided.” They recognized her as a prophetess.
So Deborah was a mother first, a woman of God, a prophetess who became a judge and finally, a general. Deborah’s story yields three observations:
First, Deborah had great faith, spiritual zeal and hope and belief in Israel’s position as the special people of God that none of the males in Israel at the time seemed to possess.
Observation: Male or female, it doesn’t matter. God honors those who honor him.
Second, Deborah was a prophetess. She spoke for God. She was a uniquely qualified person whose personal qualities swept her into a place of great responsibility.
Observation: God gave the prophetic gift, something we usually associate with men in the Old Testament, to a woman.
Third, and this is key to our discussion, Deborah pushed for male leadership. She expected Barak to lead and called him out on it when he balked. “Ok,” she said, “but because of the way you have handled this God will give the honor of final victory to a woman and not to you.”
Observation: A strong, godly woman still expects the man to take on the burden of leadership. When a man won’t do the job God will find a woman who will.
Men, many strong, capable women, are waiting for you to step up and take the lead. They need you to do that. They want you to do that. And they are frustrated when you refuse.
First, they want you lead yourself. They need to be your wife, not your Momma, your co-laborer not your wet nurse. They need you to grow up, figure out how to maximize your earning potential, learn how to use money wisely and keep the family out of unnecessary debt. They need you to take care of yourself physically and emotionally, and not depend on them for every major decision in the house. They need for you - even the strong, capable, Margret Thatcher Iron lady type leadership qualified women need this from you - to be strong when facing the challenges of life. Not superman. Not unwilling to take advice and counsel. Just strong, full of faith, trusting God, looking ahead, paying attention, adjusting to contingencies, pursuing a goal, refusing to wither in the face of adversity.
Then they need you to lead in the home and in the church. They need for you to have a plan. They need for you to initiate the plan. And they need you to be self-disciplined and courageous enough to see it through. They need you to be in the game guys, not watching ESPN while they take the heavy responsibilities of leadership.
So when we talk about leadership in the church and in the home we aren’t talking about rights, we are talking about responsibilities. When men retreat from those responsibilities God will recruit women to bear the burdens, but that isn’t his original design.