It seems like there has been a long-standing battle between the sexes. The battle can cover a broad range of areas, topics, issues, and concerns. The wreckage from the battle can range from minimal to massive depending on the relationship between the man and the woman and the context in which they connect. Clearly, it goes beyond marital relationships into the workplace, ministry, friendships and more.
The competition can be intense at time as each try to prove his or her position is the best choice. The failure comes because we do not value the gifts and skill sets of the other person. (That is true beyond gender.)
Are we so prideful that we hesitate to acknowledge the Lord designed us to need one another?
I sometimes think the Lord has a sense of humor and knows that one way to stimulate growth in sanctification is to put us in situations where our gifts, skill sets, interests, aptitudes, and abilities do not match. That sets up the dilemma of whether or not we will join forces to accomplish whatever we are facing.
My husband and I have some similar traits. We are both passionate about things, but those tend to be different things. We both prefer order to disorder in our environment, but prize it more in the area where we work the most (me…the kitchen – him…his workshop). One of us is an extrovert (me) and one an introvert (him). These examples are only a glimpse of the many that can and sometimes do impact our relationship.
After more than 50 years of marriage, I have learned how blessed we are with the ways we are different. It allows each of us to bring a different area of strength to the relationship and also to our parenting and the time we shared in our professional life. It can be easy to forget that if we have the same strengths, we also potentially have the same weaknesses. That leaves us vulnerable in many ways. (I am sure the Lord had that figured out before I learned it.)
Recently I read an example of a great model for us. You can find it in the book of Judges (chapters 4 and 5) in the Old Testament. Deborah is the main character of the story and unique in her calling by the Lord and in the nation of Israel. God called her to be both a judge and a prophet during a difficult time in Israel when the nation was begging for deliverance. No other woman was called by God for such a joint role and it is more profound a call since women were more often dominated by men during that time.
As Deborah seeks the Lord for deliverance, she hears she is supposed to call upon Barak, a mighty warrior, to battle against Israel’s oppressors. Sounds like an excellent choice of one skilled and able (with God’s help) to accomplish the task.
What happens next is what is important not to miss. Barak asks Deborah to meet him before he goes. If you don’t know the story, it might cause you to speculate he makes the request to see if she has a prophetic word for him or some prayer of blessing. His purpose is neither of those things.
At the meeting between these two, Barak tells Deborah straight up, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” That is stunning! He asked a woman to go to the field of battle…something unheard of until recent times when women joined men on the battlefield. Deborah agreed, but told him the honor would then go to her instead of him. What a perfect time for a relational battle to erupt!
Consider the differences between these two biblical heroes. Barak was a general and skilled at leading men, but he knew this battle could only be won with God’s help. Deborah was a judge and prophet who had wisdom and a connection with God that Barak did not have.
Kenny Luck in Dangerous Good lays out the key gem of this story excellently, so I will let his words narrate the understanding:
“But Barak rose above a mountain of cultural, historical, political, and professional obstacles to proactively invite a strong woman into partnership for God’s higher purposes and for the sake of others. It was countercultural and not ‘manly’ in his time exactly because it was godly. Deborah hesitates, takes a deep breath, agrees, and together they proceed to execute a plan that would free the Israelites, advance God’s plan, and defeat the enemy.”
It is accurate to say none of us is an island. In this powerful story Barak recognized Deborah’s spiritual wisdom and was humble enough to invite her to join him for the very best outcome – victory!
Rather than opposing one another, believing men and women must run to battle – together.” (Kenny Luck).
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Amos 3:3 (NKJV)