For the Lord will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will
protect you from behind (Isaiah 52:12).
Spending much of my childhood in the cool north of
the US, I always thought of palm trees as something
exotic. So when we traveled down to South Carolina
to visit family every few years, I felt as if I was somewhere
near Hawaii, even though I knew deep waters and many
miles separated the two states. Now that I live in Georgia
(and near the border of South Carolina), however, the
image of a palm tree has lost some of its romance.
More than a geographical marker, the palm tree of
Deborah was a symbol of hope (Judges 4:5). Having
fallen into sin yet again, the people were being harassed
by Jabin, a nearby Canaanite king. In His faithfulness
and compassion, God responded to the Israelites’ cries
by raising up Deborah, a prophetess who became an
advocate for the people. More than a historical account,
Deborah’s story reveals some important characteristics
for successful leadership:
Trustworthiness. The people’s willingness to come to her
for justice speaks of her character. Not only had God
entrusted Deborah with the well-being of His nation, but
the people saw something in her that made them willing
Faith. Deborah knew that the glory that came from
success in battle wasn’t hers to claim. As a leader, she
knew that her people needed to be relying on God.
Just as they didn’t need iron chariots to match the
strength of Jabin (Deuteronomy 20:1; Psalm 20:7, 68:17), she wasn’t the key
element to Barak’s ability to be victorious (Judges 4:8-9).
Focus. Unwavering in her task, Deborah remained focused on the call God had
placed on her life. Neither the opinions of man nor the circumstances in front of her
changed her stance.
How do the leaders in our lives model these qualifications? How do we reveal
them to the people we lead?
Read Matthew 5:14 to see why being a leader is inherent in
being a follower of Jesus.
Do others find you trustworthy? Why or why not? Scripture speaks
of the value of wisdom found in many advisors (Proverbs 11:14).