“Have you ever thought about the fact that you come across as quite domineering at times? And that it’s sometimes rather challenging for the men around you?” This was a question a good guy friend bravely asked me a few months ago. Eep! Had I? Yes! In fact this very thought has plagued me for years! You see there is no use denying it (trust me I have tried): I am a pioneering “alpha-female” with a strong gifting to lead. And that can be intimidating. Many people may think this is absolutely wonderful, and it is, but accepting this has been one of my greatest challenges.
Let me tell you why: my problem is that before I am a leader, I am a woman. And to be honest I used to believe one couldn’t be both, at least not fully. I often felt like I was trying to fill masculine shoes with a feminine soul. And that my very strong personality cast an overbearing shadow over my deeply sensitive heart. I feared that I would forever be trapped in a world where I was leading the charge to kill the dragons so that the princesses in towers could be rescued. And while I love leading charges and killing dragons, I have days where I just want to be the princess in a silly tower! So when my fearless friend asked me that question, he got more of an answer (and tears for that matter) than he probably bargained for.
You see on this journey I have learned that God is excited about using women as leaders, and is proud of how he has uniquely created us to fulfil that role. One of the amazing women leaders he introduced me to was Deborah from Judges 4-5 in the bible. She is a prophet and the only female judge in her time. She also victoriously leads an army into war. But when Deborah refers to herself she does not use any of these accolades. Instead in Judges 5:7 she says: Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel. Interestingly enough, the Bible never mentions whether Deborah had children of her own. And that is also not what Deborah was referring to here. Deborah was saying that God used the unique way he created her as a woman to lead her nation. He used her fierceness and her tenderness. He used her ability to mother. I also don’t believe using a women was God’s second plan in this, rather I believe it was exactly what was needed to awaken the Israelites at that time.
I know that being strong can be daunting and that there is a lot to be said about balancing our strength with our gentleness. But I also know that God is still looking for Deborahs. Are you ready to arise and awaken the world around you? And in what ways can you be a mother to your nation, even before you have kids of your own?