How to Become a Great Leader
Four traits you can learn from Deborah, Israel’s leader.
Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel.
Leadership comes from some of the strangest places. Over and over in the Bible, God tells us He sees what others do not in terms of capability and leadership. The story of Deborah in Judges 4 and 5 provides great insight into how God shapes leaders, from humble beginnings to wise judgement and even to defending their country. While there are many leadership lessons we can learn from Deborah, four stand out:
- Great Christian leaders have confidence in their decisions because they depend on a close, personal relationship with God
- Great Christian leaders trust their team to accomplish the task
- Great Christian leaders are servants who don’t take credit for winning
- Great Christian leaders rise to challenges through God’s strength
How did this all start?
The book of Judges talks about many cycles of sin, slavery and salvation. Israel was oppressed because they had turned away from God, but when they turned back to Him, God raised up judges like Deborah to lead them. Judges were spiritual, political, judicial and often military leaders.
Why a close, personal relationship with God helps you in your decisions
As a wife, spiritual leader for the people, judge and prophetess, Deborah had to learn balance in all of those roles. Deborah had a special relationship with God. She was called by Him to lead, and she trusted God to show her His will. Her decisions were based on her relationship with God. Israel recognized that relationship and accepted her leadership. We should remember to seek God’s guidance to serve Him in whatever roles to which He calls us.
Great leaders trust the team
“My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people.” (Judges 5:9) Unlike most of the judges, Deborah was not a military leader. God told her to commission a man named Barak to lead the army into battle. She knew there were others who had the skills to fight and trusted in them. Yet Barak refused to go into battle without her there. Even though Barak should have trusted God’s word, his condition for battle showed how much respect Deborah had as a leader. We learn that respect ran throughout the people.
Judges 5:15 tells us “the princes of Issachar came with Deborah, and Issachar faithful to Barak; into the valley they rushed at his heels."
Leaders should be servants
Deborah’s faith in God gave her confidence in the decisions she made. She had confidence in the military to carry out God’s plan. Deborah did not want any credit for the victory. She was modest yet assertive, taking on the mantle of leadership with strength and knowing when to step back. Great leaders follow Jesus’ example. “whoever would be great among you must be your servant . . . even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26, 28)
God gives you the strength to lead
While it was not typical for women to be judges in that time, Deborah heard God’s call and did not hesitate to give God’s words to the people. When the time came for action, she went with Barak to Kedesh. “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” (Judges 4:14)
God also granted her the gift of prophecy, proclaiming that Sisera (the commander of the enemy) would be delivered into the hand of a woman. When that prophecy came true, Deborah gave credit to God. Most of us try to depend on our own strength, only turning to God when we think we need it most. Deborah knew all of her strength came from God, and she walked with Him daily. Her actions provided a wonderful example to the people of Israel (and to us) of how God can use anyone, woman or man, to be a strong leader.
Pray this week:
“Lord, show me how to be a leader for You, no matter what role I am in. Give me opportunities to grow as a servant leader, following your example. Amen.”
Which of the four traits of a good Christian leader do you struggle with? You can connect with us today to talk and pray about it.