People are funny things- we always want to be someone different than who we actually are!
I enjoy taking those random personality tests on facebook, sometimes
they are pretty accurate and the next time they are REALLY far off. I
sure don’t think that picking your favorite book can tell you exactly
what Bible heroine you are, but sometimes it can be a pretty good clue.
When people would compare me to a woman of the Bible, I always
received the names of Miriam, Martha, and Deborah. So it did not
surprise me when the “Bible heroine test” came out as Deborah.
I have always longed to be a Ruth who made the submissive beautiful
statement of “where you go, I will go” and then had a fairy-tale romance
with Boaz. I envied Esther, the gorgeous queen who won the heart of
the king and then saved the entire Jewish nation; or Mary, the mother of
Jesus, who was so sweet and virtuous that she was the one chosen to
carry the Christ Child. But I’m always labeled as the characters that
aren’t quite as well-beloved as some of the “famous” ones.
I decided to really look at Miriam, Martha, and Deborah’s lives and
see what made up these woman and what I could learn from them. Their
stories are actually quite interesting and amazing, and I have come to
the conclusion that I am quite content with being patterned after these
ladies of the Bible times…as long as I don’t repeat the mistakes that
some of them made.
They all have something in common- they are strong, they are leaders,
they are quick to make decisions and act upon them, and they know how
to include others in their plans.
How does a woman with these characteristics handle life today when we
are surrounded with submissive, tender, and meek women? How do we
balance our personality traits that sometimes seem like a curse? How do
we keep from offending, coercing, or intimidating others? How do we
not dictate the men in our lives but allow them to establish their godly
I wrestle with all these questions, and I know that my very strong-willed friends do as well!
As a child, I was talkative and bubbly and quickly made decisions. I
was the oldest child as well, which did not help matters. I soon
discovered that people do not like when you always tell them what to
do. I also discovered that a woman with strong personality tends to
drive people away from her if she is not careful.
Miriam- The firstborn, the protector and guardian of her little
brother, Moses, a prophetess, the one who helped lead the women with
Aaron and Moses during the wilderness adventures, the one who broke into
joyous song when the Red Sea crossing was complete, the one who was
cursed with leprosy and separated from the group because she had
condemned the leadership.
Martha- The sister of Lazarus and Mary Magdalene, the firstborn, the one who was in charge of the
housework and making sure things got done (most likely the owner of the
house), the one reprimanded by Jesus for putting material things before
Deborah- A prophetess, a wife, a trusted source of wisdom, a judge,
the initiator of action, the one who broke into rejoicing after the
All three of these women filled important roles in the Bible. If
they would not have been there, something special would be missing.
Miriam was there to speak to the Egyptian princess and help save baby
Moses. She was public in her praise of God’s miracles, and was not
ashamed to lead others in that as well. According to Scripture, she was partnered closely with Aaron and Moses in terms of leading and decision-making- which is somewhat
uncommon for those times of history. Her downfall was when she decided
that she knew better than God’s established leadership; and instead of
talking with God and Moses, she went to Aaron and scorned Moses’
decisions. She was promptly punished with leprosy and banned from the
camp until Moses pleaded to God on her behalf. I believe that she was a
changed woman when she came back from her solitude, although nothing
more is said about her until her death. Would it not be interesting to
know her entire story – to know what happened between her punishment and
her death? I would like to think that she became wiser in how she used
her leadership qualities and did more help than she had even done
Martha was quite a lovely woman when you think about her life. She
helped make Jesus’ time on earth restful and peaceful. She was the one
making the household decisions and responsible if anything did not go
right. Her problem came when she was so intent on making sure the meal
was its best and that the guests were comfortable and well taken care of
that she forgot to slow down and listen. She forgot that being with
Jesus is the key to serving Him. She did not realize that criticizing
others for their seemingly irresponsible, weak, neglectful behavior is
not the best way to get something done. Martha thought that she knew
what was best at that moment, and so complained when others did not see
it her way. Jesus lovingly corrected her- for he did love her. This
verse is so special, (John 11:5) “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.“
Jesus saw that Martha was giving her very best to Him in her own way,
and He appreciated and loved that about her. He only had to redirect
her attention when she got a bit carried away! Martha must have learned
her lesson and balanced both the tasks with the time; and we gather
this because of an event that takes place later on in Scripture. A
commentator pointed out that Martha probably had investment as well in
the bottle of expensive perfume that Mary poured upon Jesus’ feet.
Never once do you hear Martha condemn Mary for her actions; isn’t that
beautiful! Her heart was at the right place this time.
Once in a while you hear of women prophets in the Bible…
Anna- Luke 2:36
Huldah- II Kings 22:14
Four Virgins- Acts 21:9
But it was mostly men that held such a position and honor. However
Deborah is unusual in the fact that not only was she a prophetess, but
she also was a judge! She called Barak unto her and told him that God
intended for him to go into battle against Sisera. He said that he
would not go unless she went with him. I can just imagine Deborah
shaking her head at his statement and saying, “Fine, I’ll go; but
instead of you getting battle honor, a woman is going to get the credit
for destroying Sisera.” So she marches with Barak into battle and tells
him to go forth because the Lord goes before them. They win the
battle, and a woman, Jael, destroys Sisera as prophesied earlier.
Judges chapter five then records Deborah’s song, a beautiful
proclamation of God’s praise and might.
I think we can learn a lot from these ladies. Being a strong woman
does not make us better than other women, but neither does it make us
bad or sinful. We do not have to try to change our personalities or
sculpt it into something that we are not. There is a lot of good that
we can do with our strength. We can cause action, inspire, encourage,
and uplift in ways that others may not be able to.
But this can also be our downfall. We can become so intent on the
mission that we forget the True Commander. We can become so involved
with achieving that we hurt and step on others that are in the way or
are not working with us. We have to be careful that we actually
appreciate our friends and their personalities. We need to not simply
use them for what we may gain from the relationship. We must not feel
threatened by other strong women and hold them off because we want
Ladies, we also have to be very careful with the men in our lives.
We have the power to motivate or destroy them. Don’t roll your eyes at
the sixteen-year old youth leader that just can’t seem to get his act
together; don’t step in and make his decisions. Instead come along
beside him and encourage him. We may be able to make powerful choices,
but the most powerful thing we can do is let the man lead and develop
into the godly male leader that God intends for him to be!
I don’t know how this applies to marriage (obviously, I’m not married
so I can not pass statement=), but Deborah and Lapidoth seemed to be
able to make it work. If I ever do get married, I pray that my
husband, the true leader of the home, will respect and value what I
think but will ultimately make the final decision on a matter.
I think though for single women, we easily intimidate men because we
have become so used to making decisions. Don’t be afraid to ask for
help; you don’t have to be in complete control all of the time. Don’t
walk over the “weak” men, and don’t fight and criticize the strong
ones. Be okay with letting go!
Like I said before, we hold a lot of power and strength in our
personalities that can be used for great good, but it can also be turned
into a weapon of destruction, hurt, and manipulation.
Lord, may we constantly come to You for wisdom in how to make
choices, how to relate with others, and how to glorify You. May we
never be ashamed to break forth in song that praises You. May we be
able to be the support the men need- not mindless dolls, but yet not
scheming bossy feminists. Thank You for giving everyone their own
personality; help us to work with each other so we can fit our unique
talents and giftings into a beautiful picture that honors You! Amen.