Deborah was a Judge, and the word judge and leader are interchangeable in the original Hebrew. We are goin
g to explore the qualifications of being a leader, according to the Scriptures.
First and foremost, God is going to raise up a woman into leadership who is a godly woman. What defines a godly woman?
Watermark Community Church published an article on the five characteristics of a godly woman. Each characteristic was supported by scripture in the Old Testament.
5 Characteristics of a Godly Woman:
- She will seek God first. 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, Psalm 9:10, Psalm 27:1-5, Psalm 34:10-14, Psalm 40:16
- She will speak, faithfully. Genesis 2:18, Proverbs 27:5-6, Proverbs 31:8-9, Proverbs 31:26, Psalm 19:14, Proverbs 12:18, Proverbs 13:3, Proverbs 16:13, Proverbs 20:15, Proverbs 24:26
- She will show true beauty. Proverbs 31:30, 1 Samuel 16:7, Proverbs 11:22
- She will stay humble. Isaiah 66:2, Psalm 141:5, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 12:1, Micah 6:8.
- She will serve the Lord. Psalm 16:11, Psalm 84:10-12
A Godly Woman’s Ministry Calling:
Proverbs 31 gives us a great example of the connection of the woman’s gifts and talents and how she will use them to serve the Lord.
- Her Ministry to Her Husband: Proverbs 31: 11,12, 23
- Her Ministry to Her Children: Proverbs 31: 14, 15, 21, 27, 28
- Her Ministry to Her Community: Proverbs 31: 20, 24, 31
- Her Ministry with Her Gifts: Proverbs 31: 13, 16, 17, 22, 26
In the Old Testament we consistently see women leading and serving in the above four categories. In the New Testament, we also see that women were Financial Benefactors, Students, Leaders, and Missionaries.
- Financial Benefactors, such as Joanna. Luke 8:2-3
- Students, such as Mary. Luke 10:38-42
- Leaders, such as Phoebe. Romans 16:1
- Missionaries, such as Priscilla. Romans 16:3
Women of Influence:
Women have an innate ability to influence one another and those around them. Therefore, we need to look at the traits common to women who are influencers and how that relates to the church. The book Women of Influence lists 10 traits of women who want to make a difference and influence Kingdom work.
- They are passionate about influencing and mentoring.
- They are gifted with leadership or teaching.
- They have a personal relationship with Jesus.
- They are dreamers, who see the big picture with optimism.
- They are good with people.
- They are willing to initiate, or take the first steps.
- They are women of integrity.
- They have an intensity that pushes them to endure the long haul.
- They are inquiring, they ask questions and want to understand.
- They are infectious, people are drawn to them and want to learn from them.
We are going to refer back to this list when we get to the point of how to determine the difference between a Deborah and a Jezebel.
Qualifications for Leadership:
In addition to these traits, qualities, and characteristics of leaders the New Testament very clearly lays out the qualifications to be considered for leadership. In 1 Timothy 3:1-12, the qualifications for Overseers and Deacons reads:
v1: It’s a noble task.
v2: be above reproach, faithful in marriage, temperate, self controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.
v3: not given to drunkenness, not violent, not quarrelsome, not greedy
v4: must manage the family/household well, have obedient children, and this is done in a respectful manner.
v5: “If anyone cannot manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” Remember, this is the verse that supports our ministry to our family/home is priority.
v6: not a recent convert (ie: spiritually mature).
v7: good reputation with outsiders (ie: not just within the body of believers).
v8: worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, not pursuing dishonest gain.
v9: “They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience”. (Remember were at the top of this piece we referenced women who are good leaders are students.)
v10: they must be tested before service. (In other words, they are not just appointed, but approved into the position. If you wonder why we have hiring/search committees … this is why).
v11: “IN THE SAME WAY, THE WOMEN ARE TO BE WORTHY OF RESPECT, NOT MALICIOUS TALKERS BUT TEMPERATE AND TRUSTWORTHY IN EVERYTHING.”
We are going to jump to the Greek translation for a moment: “Likewise wives being without reproach let them minister deacons in all things faithful temperate not slanderers ruling well.”
It is due to the Greek text, that I believe women are included as leaders within the church… not excluded. In addition, based on the wording, women are held to the same standards as men in those positions.
v12: Husbands faithful to one wife, managing his children and household well.
v13: Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
The Standard Is High:
Leaders are held to a higher standard, and will be held to greater accountability because their words and actions influence others. If your doctrine or theology is wrong, you will lead others astray. If you set a bad example in your speech or behavior, you give the impression to others that these words/behaviors are acceptable. As Christians we are to be noticeably different from the rest of the world, those in leadership even more so.
When Paul continues his letters to Timothy warning about women in leadership, it is because the women in Ephesus at the time didn’t meet these qualifications. If Deborah was a woman who met all of these qualifications, thus she was able to judge/lead Israel. Jezebel, however may have been a woman of influence, or a leader… but she wasn’t a godly leader. She didn’t meet these qualifications. She is a perfect example of the women Paul warns against.
We are going to start talking about Jezebel for the next several days. Who was Jezebel, what type of leader was she, and how does her story related to Paul’s warning to Timothy about women in leadership? I’d also like to explore the gray areas between. Not every woman who heads toward leadership in the church/ministry is a Jezebel. But, she may also not be a Deborah. We’ll wrap this up around that topic.