The testimony of Scripture is quite clear: men are to lead by serving those within their sphere of responsibility. Husbands are to lead and serve their wives. Fathers are to lead and serve their children. Prophets, priests and kings are to lead and serve their nation. Apostles are to lead and serve the universal church. Elders and deacons are to lead and serve each particular church. Yes, we can agree with our patriarchal friends that “out in front of every woman should be a self-sacrificing man.” A knight in shining armor is still a blessing to a princess. Male leadership appears to be the testimony and teaching of Scripture.
However, now we state something that might cause the heads of our patriarchal friends to spin, “Behind every good man is a woman who leads.”
There are many passages of Scripture which could be utilized to prove this point, but perhaps none is so beneficial as Judges 4 and 5. In these two chapters, one can focus upon Barak. God commissions him to save Israel. God promises him success. However, Barak is somewhat reticent to obey God, take the helm of leadership, and risk his life. His name means “lightening,” but his posture is “stuck in the mud.” Barak is timid. He is hesitant. He is sinfully passive and he needs to man-up. Barak is the perfect example of a man who is of little use to his wife, his family, his church, his community, and his God.
Yet, instead of focusing only on the negative example, one could and should also focus on the positive example of leadership. Deborah is the godly woman leading Barak to be God’s leader. Consider her ministry resume:
- Deborah prophesies — she receives divine revelation from God and must teach this to men. (4:4)
- Deborah judges — she gives verdicts and sentences that must be obeyed. (4:5)
- Deborah summons — she requires Barak to travel 70 miles to hear her words. (4:6)
- Deborah instructs — she admonishes Barak, “Has not the Lord commanded you to go to war?” (4:6)
- Deborah exhorts — she encourages, “I will surely go with you … Up! This is the day!” (4:9, 14)
- Deborah augments worship — she takes the lead in writing and sing a song of worship. (5:1)
- Deborah is divinely lauded — she is not condemned for her service, but magnificently praised by the Holy Spirit. (5:7)
And because of her character, knowledge, skill, and leadership, Barak is improved as a leader. Faithfully, he gathers his troops. Valiantly, he fights for God and God’s people. Successfully, he liberates Israel from bondage. Ultimately, he is lauded as one of Israel’s most faithful judges. (Heb. 11:32-33) Barak is “the man.” He is the self-sacrificing male leader that God intends, and he is so because behind every good man is a woman who leads.
Therefore, ladies, let us not be passive. Use all of your character, knowledge, skill and leadership to serve God.
And men, let us not find our manhood challenged by strong women. Instead, let us have our manhood improved by utilizing the female leadership in our midst.
- Eve was called by God to partner with Adam in stewarding the planet. He was not sufficient to lead alone.
- Moses was blessed by a number of strong women in his life. These included his mother, midwives, sister, and wife.
- Elkanah was encouraged in his faith by his godly wife, Hannah.
- The King could not say enough about the Proverbs 31 woman who faithfully led his household.
- Jesus and his first-century Apostles surrounded themselves with strong female disciples and deaconesses.
- The Bride of Christ (the Church), though presented in feminine gender, is called by God to lead, serve and advance the Kingdom of Christ in the world.
Men, let us not be arrogant, we need godly women.
Men, let us not be silent. Give them the praise they deserve.
Men and women, let us not be poor stewards. Men and women have an equal filling of the Holy Spirit. Men and women have gender-neutral spiritual gifts that must be utilized or else the church is handicapped.
Men and women, let us not abandon the ideal of God. Out in front of every woman should be a self-sacrificing man, and behind every self-sacrificing man should be a woman who leads.