Today’s blog post is written by guest contributor, Kim Shippey: Recently I spent several hours “walking” with some famous women of the Bible—dipping into their lives and their wisdom. I emerged deeply enriched by the traits they modeled and the leadership they exhibited.
Their inspiration has been assembled by a man who has traveled the world lecturing on self-improvement and leadership, John C. Maxwell. He’s titled his book Wisdom from Women in the Bible: Giants of the Faith Speak into our Lives (FaithWords, 2015). And speak they do—right into our lives, firmly and clearly, in just 154 pages.
This might be viewed as a companion book to Running with the Giants (2008) and Learning from the Giants (2014) in which Maxwell expounded on the lessons on life and leadership to be drawn from Old Testament men such as Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jacob, and Daniel, whose lives were transformed by God’s grace.
Many of you will already have your Bible favorites, but let me ease your curiosity by listing the women Maxwell has chosen to discuss in his new book: Ruth, Sarah, Rahab, Hannah, Abigail, Miriam, Mary, Martha, and “the Samaritan woman.”
In each chapter, Maxwell includes a segment titled “Woman to Woman” in which he shares the perspectives of those closest to him, including his 13-year-old granddaughters, who show as much spiritual receptivity as any of the older women members of the family.
One of the girls, Hannah, writes: “I am learning … to always put God first in my life, even when it’s hard. [Also] that only God can meet my deepest needs. Whenever I need to make a promise to God, I’ll remember Hannah, and try to live up to my name.”
And Maxwell’s granddaughter Maddie chooses to comment on what she has learnt from the Samaritan woman: “We need to realize that Jesus doesn’t care where we have been. He just wants us to end up loving him, living for him, and helping others to live for him, too. All we have to do is open up our hearts and let him in.”
Clearly, as Maxwell emphasizes, you don’t have to be a woman to benefit from the lessons these characters have to teach us. The truths they teach are universal.
And Maxwell’s own conclusions confirm that he has been an alert listener and learner.
From Sarah he says he has grasped that even our very best cannot possibly be compared to anything God has in mind.
From Ruth, that God wants His people to be recognized by others because of their love.
And Abigail has taught Maxwell that even if you’re an exceptional leader who has gone unrecognized or lacks status or official authority, you should never hesitate to do the right thing. “Exercise the wisdom God has given you by putting it into action,” he says. “There’s no telling what God may do with it.”
Abigail also happens to be a favorite of his daughter-in-law Elisabeth, who draws from Abigail’s example that wisdom is only as powerful as the gentle action that follows it.
She writes: “Even when the world pulls me in directions that go against God’s plan, I can work to be a peacemaker. I should never hesitate to deliver a message of truth when I can package it with love and grace.”
One thing Wisdom from Women in the Bible did was to send me scurrying to the writings of a courageous woman whose spiritual insights and leadership in the late 19th century led to the founding of the Christian Science movement, Mary Baker Eddy. She proclaimed the Bible to be her “only authority,” and demonstrated the truths she found there throughout her remarkable healing ministry (see her primary work Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 126).
Like Maxwell, I have been blessed throughout my life by the experience and wisdom of the women closest to me. And, without exception, their inspiration derives from ageless Bible wisdom they have made their own despite many challenges.
I think of my own mother whose demonstration of Bible truths consistently spoke more vividly than her words, and there was always a healing tenderness in her words that shone like gold:
“Trust GOD … spelled L-O-V-E. And love your neighbor, spelled E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E!”