Are you a woman who leads? Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader, but God has you leading someone right where you are. Maybe it’s your kids, your friends, or the teenager next door. Maybe it’s a Women’s Ministry, a team at work, or a small group. This series—led by our women’s ministry specialist Kelly King—will help you no matter where you lead, and whether you’re leading one or one thousand.
The Bible’s books of history (Joshua – Esther) include some of the greatest heroes of the faith. They fought battles against Israel’s enemies, took improbable risks, and led others on a daring life journey with the one, true God. Just take a quick look at Hebrews 11, and you’ll see the names of those who faced the unknown with courage and confidence. Courage is a characteristic leaders still display each day when faced with decisions and leading others. Faithful leaders are courageous leaders who know their boldness doesn’t come from their personality, risky behavior, or talents, but from an assignment given by their Creator that implores them to move forward with unwavering conviction.
History in the Bible is more than past stories that seem like fables of the faithful. It is a reminder of what we can learn from those who’ve walked in obedience before us. Their journey becomes a lens through which to view present leadership challenges. So what can we learn about courageous leadership from the Bible’s books of history? Let’s create an acronym for the word “courage” and highlight aspects of courage you can use today as you lead.
Calling. Leaders from Old Testament history had a unique calling on their life. Who can argue Esther’s calling to save her people? The phrase uttered by Mordecai in Esther 4:14 says, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” Today, God still places courageous women in places of leadership for a specific time and for a specific purpose.
Obedience. When God gave Gideon instructions in Judges 7 to reduce his army from 32,000 to 300, the story might sound more insane than courageous, yet Gideon’s boldness was built through obedience to God’s specific instructions. The victory of the 300 was a display not only of courage, but an example of following God’s instructions so He could receive the ultimate glory. Courageous leaders follow the instructions found in God’s Word and trust Him for the outcome.
Unafraid. Courage is often described as an absence of fear, but Christian leaders understand fearing the Lord, not man or circumstances. One of Scripture’s most courageous women (in my opinion) is found tucked away in Judges 4. God uses Jael, a nomadic Gentile tent-dweller, to overcome the enemy’s commander, Sisera. Her bravery of hammering a peg into Sisera’s head and killing him should be a reminder of how God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary tasks. When you’re faced with spiritual opposition, do you have the courage to lead without fear and instead with confidence in the Lord? I’m not advocating you drive a stake into someone’s head, but I do think your confidence comes from knowing the Lord is fighting on your behalf.
Resilience. Courageous leaders recover and bounce back from adversity. Naomi and Ruth are two examples of resilient women. Both lost husbands. Both faced poverty, famine, and a dismal future. Their return from Moab to Bethlehem put Ruth in a position of gleaning, working hard, and eventually being noticed by Boaz. Naomi called herself Mara, or bitter, when they arrived back in Bethlehem. But by the end of Ruth 4, Naomi and Ruth become blessed and bounced back from hardship with an heir—an heir to King David and ultimately, Christ. Their story is a reminder that courageous leaders are resilient in the face of adversity.
Action. The history books of the Old Testament are filled with courageous leaders who acted in faith. The story of Rahab in Joshua 2 could be a scene from an action movie. This simple prostitute hides the two spies on her roof under the flax, plans their get-away, and helps them escape down a rope through the window. Her one condition? Spare her family during Israel’s attack because she knows the spies follow the one true God. Courageous leaders don’t just dream courageous plans—they take action and execute with confidence.
Grit. We don’t often use the word grit outside of talking about breakfast, but grit is a quality of courageous leaders. It is the determination and firmness of character I find in Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 1. Her infertility led her to a point of desperation and pleading with the almighty God. She showed grit in her appeals for a child and stayed true to her promise that if God would give her a son, she would return him to the temple for a lifetime of service. Her grit and brokenness gave way to the birth of one of the Old Testament’s most influential leaders: the prophet Samuel. You, too, can be courageous by leading with grit and a resolute heart to follow God.
Endurance. Courageous leaders are ones that stick to something until it is completed, despite the hardships along the way. Similar to resilience, endurance in leaders is the ability to never give up. Nehemiah, the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, had a determination to return to Israel and rebuild its wall. The rebuilding of the wall was not only a physical reminder of God’s protection, but was a calling for the rebirth of a nation. Even so, Nehemiah faced injustices and opposition. The people were weary, yet Nehemiah provided encouragement, asked the Lord to strengthen his hands, and courageously led them to endure the task until it was completed 52 days later. If you are a leader who is discouraged today, be like Nehemiah and endure. Finish strong and complete the race God has set before you.
Does one of these attributes stick out to you most as you think about being a courageous leader? Which one do you find the most challenging? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Women. She and her husband, Vic, have been married for more than 28 years and have enjoyed serving together in ministry both teaching in student ministry for 25 years and teaching young married adults. They have two young adult children, Conner and Courtney, and a son-in-law, Gaige. They enjoy kayaking, having people in their home, and cheering for the Oklahoma City Thunder. A good day includes mocha lattes, Mexican food, and shopping for bargains.