The Lord is a God who punishes. God, show your greatness and punish! Rise up, Judge of the earth, and give the proud what they deserve. How long will the wicked be happy? How long, Lord?
They are full of proud words; those who do evil brag about what they have done. Lord, they crush your people and make your children suffer. They kill widows and foreigners and murder orphans. They say, “The Lord doesn’t see; the God of Jacob doesn’t notice.”
You stupid ones among the people, pay attention. You fools, when will you understand? Can’t the creator of ears hear? Can’t the maker of eyes see? Won’t the one who corrects nations punish you? Doesn’t the teacher of people know everything? The Lord knows what people think. He knows their thoughts are just a puff of wind.
Lord, those you correct are happy; you teach them from your law. You give them rest from times of trouble until a pit is dug for the wicked. The Lord won’t leave his people nor give up his children. Judgment will again be fair, and all who are honest will follow it.
Who will help me fight against the wicked? Who will stand with me against those who do evil? If the Lord had not helped me, I would have died in a minute. I said, “I am about to fall,” but, Lord, your love kept me safe. I was very worried, but you comforted me and made me happy.
Crooked leaders cannot be your friends. They use the law to cause suffering. They join forces against people who do right and sentence to death the innocent. But the Lord is my defender; my God is the rock of my protection. God will pay them back for their sins and will destroy them for their evil. The Lord our God will destroy them.
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
1 Samuel 17:23
As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.
All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid.And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.”And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.” ~ 1 Samuel 17:23-27
Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” ~ 1 Samuel 17:36-37
Notes & Quotes:
“If you are going to be used of God, you’re gonna have to press through the envy – which is part of the cup of leadership – evil speech. You are not going to get into leadership without this hazing (if I may). You want to lead in the body of Christ, you get prepared for the lies, the rumors and innuendos, the envies that will all come your way. And that will challenge the very core of who you are as a Christian, as a follower of Jesus Christ. Ultimately we are called to represent the one who went to the cross and gave Himself for all of mankind. And said, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’ You will never be a genuine leader in the body of Christ or in the kingdom of God without suffering some of these things.” ~ Pastor Carter Conlon
“God promises to bless, but we make the choices. You make the choices. I make the choices. The blessings are not unconditional. We can’t walk away from God and expect the same blesses we had when we were with him. They can be taken away. Your choices will change your future.” ~ Pastor Carter Conlon
“Press through the unbelief!”
Success is a dangerous place to be – because you can fall asleep.
Candlestick = your testimony; your light; your strength.
The former head of my department at work implemented what he called the “two-partner” approach to problem solving. He encouraged his managers to call on each other to talk through difficult or complex issues. He assured them that the process of talking through the problem would yield perspectives and solutions that the solo person never would have considered.
In the single female world, we call our girlfriends when we need to two-partner. But I’ve come to learn that girl talk is still one-sided as it is only a female perspective. I’ve also come to realize I have long been at a disadvantage without a male perspective to two-partner through issues with.
But God is good. This has been an exceptionally difficult year, but I can look back and see where God provided male voices I could hear, trust and listen to. As I sit here and write, I am exceptionally happy for their words of concern and guidance.
Usually, I am quick to say that I don’t have any male friends, but as I review this post, I see that there have been men who have stood as a friend to me in various situations through the years. They may not be a daily presence in my life, but when they have shown up, they have been fully present for me in that moment. This year, God has allowed some solid men to offer their voice to some of my decisions, dilemmas and transitions, and I must say I’ve been lapping up their words, suggestions and guidance with the eagerness of a leaderless scout following a glowing arrow in the woods.
A couple of years ago, I sat in on some small group Bible studies with an out-reach pastor in the City. Last spring, I sought him out before I left for Israel because I had some concerns and questions that I really needed to talk through. He was a good person to “two-partner” with regarding my desire to go to Israel and all the associated concerns. He asked for a follow-up meeting upon my return and from there we began meeting every other week to discuss any other Biblical topics or themes that came to mind. He has been a blessing. I had prayed long and hard for someone to discuss and explore the Word of God with. Our one-on-one Bible meetings have been incredibly thought provoking and edifying for us both. More than that, knowing that he’s a traditional Bible teacher who doesn’t believe women should be heard from in the assembly of the church (i.e. he quotes 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 which says women should be silent in the church and ask their husbands questions at home regarding the teachings) added a very interesting layer to our conversations. To be told by a pastor, who’s been teaching for thirty years, that our discussions have him looking at the Word from different angles encourages me to continue to speak in faith even when entering a conversation with someone who has different viewpoints; when the Holy Spirit is present, understanding will come.
On the work front, there’s a former colleague who’s been going through huge family growth and transition since we first met three years ago. He provided a voice of reason when I shared thoughts about a cross-country move in the late spring. Based on his experience as a husband and father, he suggested options and scenarios that never crossed my mind. He shared the things he considered when he and his wife made their first big move and when he moved his young family more recently. It was quite eye-opening, hearing the things a man thinks about in such a situation, especially because my own decision to relocate was completely based on my emotions. Sharing with him and hearing his feedback grounded me in a way that I couldn’t manage to ground myself. At the end of our conversation, I said with a little bit of awe,“I really need my own husband; you guys are awesome!”
Over the summer, I was able to connect with an old friend who proved to be a great support in the past. We hadn’t spoken in a while, but from the word, “Hey” it was laugh-therapy with quite a bit of sharing about how our worlds and focus have changed over the years. We spoke about our current challenges and the hopes that were sustaining us. It was nice to “two-partner” with someone who knows how I think and can understand my conclusions without a drawn-out personal history lesson for background. We just jumped right into the listening, guidance and support portions of the conversation. As always, I was uplifted by the exchange.
There was another co-worker who, for well over a year, heard my gripes, joys and hopes on a regular basis. He listened with attentive ears and offered very insightful council. And more often than not, he shared his own gripes, joys and hopes as well. We were both cheerleaders and receivers to one another – often times in the same conversation.
This fall, I had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a social brother I rarely see. We had something of a public disagreement last year via social media. We made up, in a way, via other forms of media. Since then, we’ve seen each other a couple of times in groups and got along well. But when we ran into each other a few weeks ago, he made a point of telling me that my public rebuke “had him feeling some kind of way”…. Even though he understood why I did it and acknowledged that a rebuke may have been necessary, he said he wished I would have pulled him to the side and said my piece offline. I thought about it. I heard him, really I did. I briefly defended myself by stating that I responded to the offense in the same forum that I received it. Then I assured him that, in future, I would endeavor to keep any criticisms for private conversation.
I don’t know about you, but that was huge for me. I’ve been telling people for years that you have to teach people how to treat you. The same holds true for me – I have to be taught how to respond to individuals in a constructive way for my relationship with them. Some people don’t pay attention to my bluntness. Other’s pay attention, but don’t care. Then there are those who hear and care, but would appreciate a softer word to respond to. The fact that we “two-partnered” our own relationship was enlightening and encouraging. What I took away from our conversation was the need to pay more attention to the masculinity in the man. To treat a man’s masculinity as something I wish to nurture rather than destroy.
Last in this short list of men who have given me a taste of two-partnerhood, is the neighbor who speaks to me so comfortably about some of his troubles that his wife has two-partnered with me a couple of times regarding him. He speaks to me of things his wife has told him (and me) that she has no interest in talking to him about or she doesn’t otherwise want to hear. I’m not suggesting this is a good practice to allow or encourage, however, I have learned a valuable lesson from them: I pray that when I marry, I learn to have an open ear and heart for my husband always. I pray I don’t become a woman who poisons the well of communication in my marriage.
The men briefly profiled here have provided positive examples of manhood for me over the past seven years. Looking back on what I’ve learned from my interactions with them, I am able to see that God heard my cry and answered my supplication in my book, My God and Me: Listening, Learning and Growing on My Journey, where Iwrote a great deal about how I had no positive examples of marriage while growing up. Throughout the book, it was evident that there was an early and long struggle for me to respect many of the males who had impacted my early life. In my early experience, men did not act like men and I saw no need to treat them as if they were. By the time I published My God and Me, I had disposed of all that worn-out baggage and was looking for better experiences for my life.
Now, as I look back on what I term an “exceptionally difficult year”, I see an exceptional shift in my preparation for marriage. God has seen fit to connect me to men whose masculinity is tempered with compassion, humor, vulnerability and wisdom. He connected me to men who communicate and follow-through on their care and concern for my well-being.
I no longer see the negative representatives of manhood from my early life when I think of the man I will partner with. I see a collage made of:
Men who want to be husbandsMen who truly want to become fathersMen who are actively caring for their childrenMen who are dedicated leaders in their homeMen who work hard to provide for their familyMen who want to communicate with their wifeMen who want to share their real selves – the good, the bad and the ugly – with their wifeMen who actually want to be MEN – with all the strength and vulnerability that entails
I see a man who will be a confidant, friend, guide, lover, motivator, protector, provider, supporter, visionary and more to this woman who wants to be the same and more to him.
MAN & WIFE = LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT by LaShawnda Jones
“My goal with the two-projects-that-are-really-one, is to make them complimentary to each other. I have no desire for The Helper to outshine The Worker. Nor do I want The Worker to dominate The Helper. Just as in life and in marriage, the two should be both bearers of light and reflections of each another’s best qualities.”
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So, the above six words have been with me for over a month. When they first came together in mind, I realized I had finally hit upon the approach for my two companion books-in-progress: The Worker: A Man of God and The Helper: A Woman of God. They are two books that are really one with a focus on man and woman as individuals and as partners in their marriage, their family and their community.
I know… I have lofty aspirations…..
I’ve been stumped by the idea of writing a book for men. Even though the Word of God is available to us all, the thought of communicating such lofty matters (regarding function and purpose) to a male audience has been intimidating. And I’ve been overwhelmed at the thought of condensing my endless thoughts about women as wives, mothers and supporters. Fortunately, I’ve been bolstered by the knowledge that my craft, hand, and spirit are yielded to the Holy Spirit and I trust that only that which will be edifying for the readers to come will be written.
My goal with the two-projects-that-are-really-one, is to make them complimentary to each other. I have no desire for The Helper to outshine The Worker. Nor do I want The Worker to dominate The Helper. Just as in life and in marriage, the two should be both bearers of light and reflections of each another’s best qualities.
My bright idea was: Marriage is basically a partnership of leadership and management. The man is the natural leader in his marriage and family. The woman is the natural manager in her marriage and family. Popular culture and social norms tell us there are many variations and combinations for marriage. But my books are not about the preferences of popular culture, they are about the preferences of God as stated in His Word.
Leader: a person that leads; a guiding or directing head; a person who rules, guides, or inspires others (dictionary.com)
Manager: a person who has control or direction of an institution or of a part, division, or phase of it; a person who manages; a person who controls and manipulates resources and expenditures (dictionary.com)
That being said, I am looking forward to fleshing out my two-books-that-are-one: The Workerand The Helper. I am looking forward to exploring how the Worker’s leadership in the home sets the pace and standard for his Helper’s management of the household.
Today’s thought: Marriage is all about the partnership of two individuals who have chosen to become one. A partnership between a man, who is created to work and a woman, who is created to help. The partnership works best when the husband accepts the mantle of responsibility to provide for and lead his wife and children, and the wife accepts his covering which equips her to support and manage the needs of her husband and their household.
If animals in partnership can adapt to each other’s needs in the wild, surely it’s not such a stretch for today’s young couples….
“Great queen of Egypt, I believe we can all see that the Hebrew child will not accept nourishment from those not related to him. Why not bring a woman of his own race to feed him?”
In her excitement over finding the beautiful child in the basket among the reeds of the Nile River, the princess had not noticed a young onlooker.
“Please forgive me for my boldness, but I know of a Hebrew woman who has just lost a baby. Your newfound child might allow her to feed him. If her majesty pleases, I would be happy to bring the Hebrew woman to you.”
“You speak well for a child of your age,” said the princess. “What is your name?”
“Miriam,” she said.
“Well, Miriam, bring the woman of whom you speak – and quickly, demanded the princess, now ready to accept whatever help she could get to quiet the hungry baby Moses.
Miriam’s forthright courage, her faith and her ability to think and take decisive action, even as a youth, help us to understand why God chose her, along with her brothers, Moses and Aaron, to lead Israel out of Egypt:
“I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam” (Micah 6:4).
The Bible doesn’t tell us when God began to use Miriam as a prophetess. The first biblical description of her in this role occurs after God miraculously stopped the pursuing Egyptian army at the Red Sea.
“Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them:
‘Sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider
he has hurled into the sea’ (Exodus 15:20-21).
According to Josephus, Miriam was married to Hur of the tribe of Judah – the same Hur who, along with Aaron, supported Moses’ arms in Israel’s battle with the Amalekites (Exodus 17:11-13).
As part of this powerful family, Miriam was there when Moses, Aaron, Hur and various other family members discussed Israel’s problems, and developed strategies to solve them. As a prophetess and the oldest member of the family, her opinion was valued. She was accustomed to being approached for her advice and was revered as the first lady of Israel.
Compared to some other ancient cultures, women in early Israelite history enjoyed many freedoms. A woman, whether married or single, could appear without a veil. She could travel about alone, and meet and talk with men publicly.
Yet, in spite of her prominence, Miriam, and her brother Aaron, both began to fear their influence was waning. Out of jealousy, they began to gossip about Moses’ marriage to an Ethiopian woman: “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?… Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” (Numbers 12:2).
The Bible records that God heard what Miriam and Aaron said about Moses, and God was not pleased. God knew that it was not so much Moses’ marriage, as Miriam and Aaron’s envy of their younger brother’s authority over them, that underlay their criticism.
Miriam and Aaron did not fear Moses’ reprisal. After all, their brother usually did not defend himself against reproaches. Hadn’t he always listened patiently to the endless complaints of Israel? Miriam and Aaron knew that Moses was long-suffering and humble – perhaps in their judgment, a little too much so.
God, however, did not view what had happened in the same way as Miriam and Aaron. He saw clearly their presumptuous attack, at Miriam’s instigation, against his chosen leader. If they wanted God’s attention, they now fully had it. God commanded: “Come out to the Tent of Meeting, all three of you.” (verse 4).
Reminding Miriam of his special relationship with Moses, God said: “When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses…. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (verses 6-8).
When the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, signifying that God had departed, Aaron sheepishly looked over at Miriam. Recoiling in horror at the sight of his sister’s pasty-white scaly skin, he must have quickly looked at his own hands and arms as well. No, only Miriam was leprous.
Aaron’s tone and approach toward Moses were now remarkably changed: “Please my lord, do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away (verses 11-12).
Moses didn’t have to be persuaded further. He fervently cried out to God: “O God, please heal her!” (verse 13). God agreed to do so, but not immediately. Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days before God removed her humiliating punishment.
“I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam ” (Micah 6:4).
We read little more about Miriam in the annals of the Bible. According to Josephus, however, Miriam and Hur were the grandparents of Bezalel, whom God commissioned as the chief craftsman and builder of the tabernacle and its furniture in the wilderness (Exodus 31:2-11; 35:30; 38:22).
Hur was also father of three sons who founded the towns of Kiriath Jearim, Bethlehem and Beth Gader (1 Chronicles 2:20, 50-51).
Miriam went on to travel with Moses and Aaron and the Israelites for almost 40 years in the desert. She died shortly before Aaron, near the end of lsrael’s wanderings, at Kadesh (Numbers 20:1).
Like her brothers, Miriam did not enter the Promised Land, and was buried in the wilderness. Thus ended the life of this multitalented woman of courage, faith and firm resolve, who, alongside Moses and Aaron, rejoiced in the triumphs and suffered the trials and dangers of God’s calling in the wilderness of Sinai.
As with the many other heroes of the Bible, Miriam’s strengths and weaknesses were recorded for our education, inspiration and encouragement.
The story opens with the words, “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs” (verse 7). It may be hard for us to believe that Israel would substitute the worship of the great God for worship of pagan idols of wood and stone. But before we condemn them, we should remind ourselves that we are guilty of the same sin when we put other activities and priorities before our relationship with God. What are your idols? They may not be made of stone, but to God they are just as sinful.
For their idolatry, God delivered Israel into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim, king of Aram Naharaim (verse 8). Rishathaim is not found anywhere else in ancient literature, but it means “wicked.” The Israelites served Cushan for eight years. They probably paid tribute to this foreign king in exchange for their security.
When the Israelites repented and cried out to God for help, he raised up Othniel to deliver them. Othniel had a rich spiritual heritage. His uncle was Caleb, a man of unwavering faith in God (Numbers 13:30; 14:24). Othniel was also a brave soldier. In Judges 1:12-13, we read that he volunteered to lead an attack against a fortified city. Othniel’s leadership brought the people back to God and freed them from the oppression of Cushan. Unfortunately, it was not long after Othniel’s death that the Israelites fell back into their sinful ways.
EPISODE TWO: EHUD
“Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (verse 12). This time, God sent Eglon, king of Moab, against Israel. Allied with the Ammonites and the Amalekites, Eglon defeated Israel.
The nomadic tribes of Moab, Ammon and Amalek lived near one another, southeast of Canaan. These tribes were notorious raiders who possessed great military skill. The Moabites were descendants of Moab, the son of Lot’s elder daughter (Genesis 19:37). They posed a constant threat to Israel. Jephthah, one of the later judges, reminded the Ammonites that they and the Moabites had refused to give Israel permission to travel through their land (Judges 11:14-17). When the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, they were seduced by the Moabite and Midianite women to participate in idolatrous practices (Numbers 25:1-18).
“Ehud then approached [Eglon] while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, ‘I have a message from God for you.’ As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly” (Judges 3:20-21).
After 18 years of Moabite oppression, God raised up Ehud to deliver the Israelites (Judges 3:14-17). The text here contains three seemingly irrelevant details: Ehud is left-handed, his sword is doubled-edged and 18 inches long, and Eglon is very fat. Since biblical narrative is usually sparse in descriptive language, one can assume that these details have relevance in the forthcoming plot. And indeed they do.
Because Ehud was left-handed, he strapped the sword on his right thigh. A movement with his left hand to his right thigh was less likely to be interpreted by Eglon as reaching for a weapon. The sword was short enough to be concealed, yet long enough to do its job. Eglon’s large, cumbersome body made him an easy target for Ehud. After killing Eglon, Ehud led the Israelites to a great victory at Seirah (verses 26-30). Ehud’s courageous faith brought peace to the nation of Israel for 80 years.
EPISODE THREE: DEBORAH
After Ehud died, the Israelites again sinned against God, who then gave them “into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor” (Judges 4:2). Joshua had defeated an earlier King Jabin, and had burned the city of Hazor to the ground. But the Israelites had failed to expel all the Canaanites from the land, to their later cost. The city of Hazor had been rebuilt by the time of this later Jabin, who oppressed the Israelites for 20 years.
God responded to Israel’s cry for help and used Deborah, a faithful prophetess who was judging Israel at that time, and Barak, her military commander, to deliver the nation. This detailed story is told twice: once in skillfully narrated prose (verses 4-24) and once in a magnificent poem known as The Song of Deborah (Judges 5:1-31). This song resembles another victory hymn, The Song of Moses and Miriam, or The Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1-18).
Deborah told Barak to raise an army and go to Mt. Tabor, for God would give Israel a great victory over the Canaanites. Barak agreed to do so only if Deborah would accompany him. Deborah complied but told Barak that because of his lack of faith in God’s promise of victory, the honor of killing Sisera, who commanded Jabin’s army, would fall not to Barak but to a woman (Judges 4:6-9).
Deborah and Barak summoned the Israelites from Kedesh. Not all the tribes responded (Judges 5:13-18). However, Barak was able to assemble some 10,000 men, chiefly from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun. Sisera countered by gathering his troops in the Kishon basin, relying on his 900 iron chariots to overwhelm Barak’s force.
But God decided the battle in Israel’s favor. He demonstrated his superiority over the Canaanite storm god, Baal, by causing an unexpected thunderstorm to transform the Kishon basin into mud, thus immobilizing the Canaanite chariots. Deborah roused Barak to attack, and he routed Sisera’s army. The Israelites would later sing, “The river Kishon swept them away, the age-old river, the river Kishon” (verse 21).
Sisera had managed to escape the initial onslaught of Barak’s army and fled to the tent of Heber the Kenite, a friend of Jabin. Heber’s wife, Jael, welcomed Sisera and gave him some milk to drink. Sisera, believing he was safe, fell sound asleep. Jael then picked up a tent peg in her left hand and a hammer in her right hand, and drove the peg through Sisera’s temple. This act fulfilled Deborah’s prophecy and immortalized Jael in Hebrew poetry (verses 24-27).
Shamgar, referred to in Judges 3:31 and 5:6, fought around this time against another enemy of Israel — the “Sea Peoples,” a group that included the Philistines. The Israelites eventually gained the upper hand over their enemies, and the land had peace for 40 years (Judges 4:23; 5:31).
Some have tried to understand God’s selection of Deborah by reasoning that he could not find any man suitable for the job, so he was forced to use Deborah.While this reasoning may serve to keep male egos intact, it ignores the testimony of Scripture. God is able to use whoever he wants. He does not appoint leaders by using human criteria.When Samuel considered Eliab a suitable successor to King Saul, God corrected Samuel’s limited perception: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Some find it surprising that God used a woman as a judge of Israel. But we should not allow preconceived ideas or prejudices to get in the way of respecting those whom God appoints to lead us. Barak, a man of faith, loyally followed the individual God chose.The account in Judges reveals that Deborah’s personality drew people together. She was also a prophetess and led the people to obey God. God used Deborah to influence Israel to remain faithful long after the battle was over. Leaders inspired by God are concerned with the spiritual well-being of those they are called to serve. Deborah certainly was.