The recipe for a leader doesn’t usually start with a prostitute mom.
If I were in charge of the world and decided who would lead and who would follow, I probably wouldn’t have picked Jephthah (let’s start with how tricky his name is to spell).
But God tends to do things differently than I do:
Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. (Judges 11:1)
Right off the bat we learn this man (who would lead Israel eventually), was a mighty warrior. . . and an illegitimate son.
(Given the fact that we live in America, which hasn’t seen war on it’s land in quite awhile, it’s hard to picture a mighty warrior. But we do have America Ninja Warrior. . .so go with that image.)
Physically Jephthah fit the part of a leader. Unfortunately, he had a bit of a checkered familial history. And it gets a bit worse for him before it gets better.
Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.” (Judges 11:2)
I cannot begin to imagine the pain of being rejected by your own family. Yes, they were half-brothers. . .but still they shared a father. Thankfully, Jephthah’s story isn’t over.
And thankfully for us we learn our son’s past (even our past) does not dictate our future.
Before time began God chose Jephthah to be born from a prostitute and for him to lead Israel into victory. He was truly “born a leader”. No circumstance, even family rejection, would prevent God’s role for Him to be fulfilled.
It does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. (Romans 9:16)
As moms we can expend vast amounts of energy crafting the perfect childhood to create future leaders, but ultimately the course our children take is determined by God.
Does that mean we should stop reading books aloud to our boys or abandon training them in character? Absolutely not.
This story reminds us to not feel the burden of our son’s ultimate outcome–to fall on our knees more than we lean on a certain curriculum. To wake each morning to God’s fresh mercy more than waking up to a mommy must-do list.
The last thing I’ve learned through studying Jephthah is to be okay if some of my boys aren’t leaders. I have four sons. Some of them may follow more than lead. That’s okay.
Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:21)
A son who plays his, noble or common, role in God’s plan, is a son who is honoring God with his life. Who am I to question the Creator on why not all boys are leaders? Who am I to question, “why did you make him like this”?
May all four of my sons be listed in a great hall of faith. For believing without seeing. For relying on God in their weaknesses. For suffering with grace. For walking in the path He has for them. And for pursuing the call on their lives…whether to lead or to follow.
Do you ever wonder if your son’s family history prevents him from future success?
Heather has been married for fifteen years and is the mother of four young boys (born exactly, to the day, within 6 1/2 years . . . just like she’d always planned). Heather writes about motherhood and chronicles the messy journey of “relentlessly replacing ‘me’ with ‘He’ — sharing the daily struggle of remaining God-centered while mothering four wild-at-heart, energetic, and often stubborn boys. She hosts a weekly podcast interviewing moms, authors, and wise women about how to be a God-centered mom.