In a world preoccupied with being number 1, and having the honor and respect, I still think it’s ok to be the number 2.
Last week, and previously, I have heard the story of Deborah and Barak (Judges 4-5) preached. The facts aren’t complicated:
- Deborah (judge and ruler) is planning a war
- She says to Barak “God says, you’re up!”
- Barak says, “but I want you to come too”
- Deborah says “sure I’ll come with, but you won’t get the honour. History will record that a woman did this”
The few times I have heard this story preached, all have been critical of Barak. He wasn’t brave. He didn’t step up. He wasn’t courageous enough to go on his own. If he had heard the call properly, and trusted God, honour would be his.
So today I read the story for myself. Apart from that one warning from Deborah, I am NOT seeing any criticism of Barak. Maybe some Bible scholars know better, I’m not sure.
Here’s what I saw happened:
- Barak did what he was asked. He gathered the troops
- He went out WITH Deborah and advanced on the enemy
- They won the war
- The king of the opponent was also killed but by another different women
- A song was written about both Deborah and Barak
- There was peace in the land for 40 years
In a world preoccupied with being the sole hero, the seen leader, the applauded icon, is this story really a lesson in disobedience or lack of courage?
He still went to war – he was courageous.
He still did what he was asked – he gathered the troops and fought.
They were still victorious.
It was ok to be number 2.
The world over is filled with a variety of people, personalities and skills. Some are risk takers, some are strategists, some are back room.
Some work well alone, some as a team. Some can back themselves, some need reassurance.
If your best position is number 2, and you can achieve great things but risk no honour, then I see not criticism of that position in this story. Don’t let the visible people of the world criticise you for achieving, albeit from a place of no. 2.
What was the end goal? Was it honour, or victory? If you read this story as a criticism of Barak, then your focus is honour. If you read this story as a team who fulfilled the mission, then your focus is on the victory, which provided 40 years of peace.
As a final thought, I think having a song written about you IS honour. Sure it wasn’t solo honour, but he was honored nevertheless.