God as Priority
by Dawn Lindholm
Many times women are told there is a hierarchy of priorities that she must submit to. The idea goes like this: God_Husband_Family_Neighbor… Well, you get the picture. Another way it is presented is God_Others_Self.
Is that really what Scripture teaches? Or is this some sort of structure people have laid over the text?
One of my favorite Old Testament women is Deborah from Judges 4 & 5. What an outstanding and courageous woman she was, willing to go against traditional convention in order to do what God had gifted and called her to be. But what is surprising or striking about the opening lines of her story is that she is described this way:
“Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided.”
What is astonishing is that she is not described, first and foremost, as a wife but as a prophet.
Okay, where was I when, as a young woman, I was told that my priority was God first and that meant that my gifting and ministry calling was included in that priority? It isn’t until after Deborah’s gifting/calling is listed that we find out she is a wife. This role is secondary to her gifting and call (which, I now realize, is a part of putting God first). I missed that lecture in high school Sunday school and youth group meetings! I spent much of my youth searching out and hoping to meet mister right because I thought that being a wife and mother was the greatest mission of all!
God gifted and called each of his children (both men and women) to serve him, his family (the church), and the world. Deborah grasped this truth and the Israelites greatly benefited from her obedience to how God had prepared and designed her.
Please do not misunderstand me. Being a wife and mother is a glorious vocation and responsibility! I just want young women and men to comprehend that serving God is of primary focus. To have talents and to bury them for the sake of convention is never wise nor encouraged (Matt. 25:14-30). Seeking God’s Kingdom and pleasing him is a life-long priority.
What a lesson! To grasp that who you are, and how you are wired, is not something you give-up in order to fill a role. Deborah was a prophet. Her roles included being a wife, a leader, and a judge. She didn’t have to chose between who God had made her to be and her roles or functions.
Deborah is a person I want everyone to meet. Her devotion to God and her understanding of that priority blessed her people. Isn’t that a lesson all young people need to hear? He has a reason that he created you and gifted you the way he has.