Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” (Judges 4:8 NASB)
Deborah and Barak formed a relationship based on mutual need and a common desire to position the purposes of God above theirs. Both were willing to let the other take the credit. Deborah was the judge that God raised up to deal with the oppression of the Canaanites. Barak was the man qualified to help the Prophetess with this task. Deborah appeals to Barak;
“Behold, the Lord, the God of Israel, has commanded, ‘Go and march
to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons
of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun. 7 I will draw out to you
Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his
many troops to the river Kishon, and I will give him into your hand.’”
(Judges 4:6b-7 NASB)
Deborah was God’s mouthpiece, but being a women was not qualified to command an army. So she named someone that was capable in that roll. Matthew Henry wrote that “He (Barak) could do nothing without her mind, and she could do nothing without his hands.” As servants of God we are sometimes tempted to try to be all things to all people. All believers have strengths and weaknesses. God delights in interfacing people and ministries to make up for one’s limitations with another’s capacities. Individually we are limited at best, but collectively we become strong. God links together people of different race, culture, theology, and yes, even gender. If the Church is going to reach the world, should it not represent the world?
There is one critically important thing we can learn from this story. When we work cooperatively in the Body of Christ, it should not matter who gets the credit. Deborah does not soft-sell Barak in relation the benefits for his involvement. She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman” (v. 9.). Culturally, because Deborah was a woman, even if Barak won the victory and defeated Sisera, he would still lose face. It appears he is more concerned with getting the job done than his own reputation. In the Church, when presented with a similar dilemma, do we chose opportunistically, caring more about our image than the purposes of God. Former US President, Ronald Reagan, is said to have had a plaque in his office that stated, “There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
Pray with me. Lord, help me not to care who gets the credit. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing