Rahab – The Surprising Leader
By: Susie Harrington
We first meet Rahab in Joshua 2 as Joshua was leading the people of Israel through the promised land. Arriving at the city of Jericho which God had promised couldn’t stand in their way, Joshua’s strategy was to send in 2 men to spy out the land. It was in that city that they encountered Rahab.
Rahab was a woman of bad reputation. She may have been a prostitute because of her role as priestess of the moon god, but it was more likely that she was the landlady of an inn within the city wall which created a number of income streams for her. Her house was probably situated near the town gate, making it a great position for business. It appears that Rahab was also an entrepreneur, as she made linen for fine clothing, and engaged in dying cloths and silks for the upper echelons of society.
Rahab’s heart as a leader is best described by Lizz Curtis Higgs who introduces Rahab like this:
Her neighbours called her a woman of the night,
The Lord God called her a heroine of the faith.
A man called Salmon gladly called her his wife –
Meet our amazing sister Rahab, a former prostitute who was decidedly bad for a season but not forever ….
Rahab had outrageous faith
It’s remarkable that Rahab appears to be the only person in the city to believe in God long before she encountered the spies who walked into her establishment. Her leadership shines in so many ways, including her choices not to listen to the gossip circulating around her city, but to discern the truth about what made the difference between the gods of her nation and the God of the Israelites. Leaders must develop the capacity to discern their way through gossip and stories, to seek out the truth.
Not only was she not fearful but she actively pursued a means of connecting with this awesome God. Her faith outrageous faith enabled her to dare to believe she could be part of His world. She dived deeper than the stories, to understand how this God was different.
It’s vital that leaders never just accept what everyone else believes, but takes their own journey to discover more of God. She developed a faith that stood alone in her world. It was a faith that was steadfast. Even when Caleb and Joshua had escaped from her house, she still believed that her family would be saved along with her.
Rahab took risks
Rahab was a woman who, despite the circumstances, lived without fear of what would become of her. She didn’t operate according the natural parameters around her, but instead, looked for what was possible. Good leaders don’t live with fear of what will become of them, or they consistently make choices to overrule that fear and do it anyway.
Rahab was clearly an entrepreneur because it wasn’t the norm in that culture for a woman to have her own business. She wasn’t afraid to set to and carve out a sustainable, profitable business for herself and her family to live from.
She appears to be well known, many of the notable persons of the city came to visit, and it appears that she had a reputation in the city that carried weight. For those reasons, it was an enormous risk to hide the spies on her roof. She was obviously thinking on her feet and went to extraordinary lengths to preserve the lives of two men she didn’t know. She clearly had insight and the ability to look at the long view, rather than the short view. She had to abandon the security of the present to look into an uncertain future, and be brave enough to take herself there. The whole city was melting with fear, but Rahab was perceptive, emotionally intelligent, well informed, and she also had a plausible story with which to deceive the king’s agents.
Leaders must continually work on developing their capacity, learning to be perceptive, well informed, emotionally intelligent and brave if they are to step out of the security of the present into the uncertain future, allowing their obedience to God to take them there.
Rahab took people with her
You can see Rahab’s extraordinary leadership quality. Not content to escape on her own, she made sure she saved her whole household, which didn’t just mean her family, but also those who lived and worked alongside her. She helped them all escape, taking them with her on the adventure of a lifetime. They trusted her judgement when all around them the walls were crumbling and the city was being destroyed in front of their eyes. They followed her because she’d earned their trust with her leadership decisions many times before.
Leaders aren’t the ‘good ideas’ people; they’re the ones who can be trusted to make good decisions when the right decision is crucial.
Rahab created a legacy
Rahab’s decision to save the spies created a legacy that would flow down her generational line. Hiding those two men was a quick, responsive decision which made space for God to move, saving many lives, and creating a line of honour which began with her. Rahab married Salmon, one of the spies from the tribe of Judah, her son was Boaz who married Ruth. Their genealogy followed all the way through to Jesus! Amazing! One brave and visionary decision altered history.
Are there areas in your leadership role that you need to make decisions in order to create legacy?
Rahab allowed God to change her story
Joshua 2:2 says she didn’t know who God was but she had the courage to believe that the God she’d heard about would change her life. She allowed God to interrupt a life which was good for a life that was better. Rahab created space for revelation of who God truly is to come to her just like Peter did in Matt 16:16. When Jesus asked the disciples who they thought he was, Peter spoke revelation of the truth.
A leader listens to what the spirit of God speaks to her through revelation, rather than depend on other people’s opinions to guide them. Are there aspects of your leadership in which you need to hear revelation directly from God, rather than just go with the flow?
I hope you enjoy this leadership insight of this remarkable leader – I certainly have!