Apparently there are six leadership capabilities, which collectively form the acronym W.I.S.D.O.M.
W – Work and acting with authenticity and appropriateness
I – Insightful and flexible fortitude
S – Shift your perspective towards a noble purpose
D – Decision logic with discernment and intuition
O – Openness to lead from any position
M – Motivated by enlightened self-interest
I think we would all agree that wise leaders are a very rare breed.
We’ve been following the story of Joshua leading the Israelites into the promised land. When Joshua died, there was a vacuum of power. The people, losing their spiritual commitment and motivation, abandoned God and worshipped idols. This period of rapid decline was due to sin, individual and corporate, with everyone doing “as he saw fit”, resulting in the Israelites becoming captives. Out of their desperation they begged God to rescue them. In faithfulness to His promises and out of His loving-kindness, God raised up a judge to deliver His people and, for a time there was peace. Then complacency and disobedience would set in, and the cycle began again. Over a period of 325 years there were six successive periods of oppression and deliverance, and there were 12 men and women who delivered Israel from her oppressors.
These judges were not perfect; in fact, they included
- an assassin,
- a sexually promiscuous man,
- and a person who broke all the laws of hospitality.
However, they were submissive to God, and God used them as wise leaders.
Deborah fitted the description of wise leader perfectly. She had the right skill set, and she had a remarkable relationship with God. The insight and confidence God gave this woman placed her in a unique position in the Old Testament. Her story shows that God can accomplish great things through people who are willing to be led by Him.
The Israelites once again faced a powerful army, but this army had chariots. Chariots were the tanks of the ancient world. Made of iron or wood, they were pulled by one or two horses and were the most feared and powerful weapons of the day. To be faced with 900 chariots would have put great fear into Israel. There was no way they could match this. Therefore, King Jabin, and Sisera, the Commander of his army, had no trouble oppressing the people, which they did for 20 years – until a faithful woman named Deborah called upon God.
Was Barak, Israel’s army commander, cowardly or just in need of support when he told Deborah she had to go with him into battle? This was despite Deborah telling Barak that God would be with him all the way. That appeared not to be enough for Barak.
His request shows that at heart he trusted human strength more than God’s promises. He lacked the faith to step out in God’s command. He was a reflection of Israel’s lack of faith in God.
On the other hand, Deborah’s life challenges us in several ways.
- She reminds us of the need to be available both to God and to others.
- She encourages us to spend our efforts on what we can do rather than on worrying about what we can’t do.
- She challenges us to be wise leaders.
- She demonstrates what a person can accomplish when they allow God to be in control.
- She was dependent on God and obedient to his commands.
As Israel was in a repeated downward spiral into sin, they refused to learn from history, living only for the moment, which took them further into sin.
Judges is also a book about sin and its consequences. Like a minor cut or abrasion that becomes infected when left untreated, sin grows and soon poisons the whole body. Our sins harm both ourselves and others, but all sin is ultimately against God because it disregards his commands and his authority over us.
Recognising the seriousness of sin is the first step towards removing it from our lives, for sin leads us into living in a mess; struggles and dilemmas easily get out of control. When we’ve messed up God should be the first person we turn to. Instead we try to control our own lives without God’s help. All this does is to lead us into further struggle and confusion. In contrast, when we stay connected to the Lord by consecrating ourselves daily, we are less likely to create painful circumstances.
This is a lesson the Israelites never fully learned. When struggles come our way, God wants us to come to him first, seeking his strength and guidance, thus seeking His Kingdom. Jesus encourages us to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”. Too often we push God to the back of the queue. In other words, we are to turn to God first for help. Then we are to fill our thoughts with His desires, to take His character as our pattern in life, thus serving and obeying Him in absolutely everything we do.
That’s when we grow in God’s love and blessings!
Judges 4:4-10 & 13-15; Matthew 6:25-34