They say, “Amateurs talk about strategy, professionals talk about logistics.” Or also, “An army marches on its stomach.” I actually found a whole page of quotes along these lines here, the jist of which is that if you don’t know your logistics, you lose. It goes all the way back to Sun Tzu, who said in the Art of War, “The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…” One of my personal favorites comes from Alexander the Great: “My logisticians are a humorless lot … they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay.” Even as mighty as David was, he knew his soldiers couldn’t fight if they were starving so he visited the priests of Nob to find some bread.
It doesn’t matter really how fierce or skilled your warriors are. If they are not at the battlefield, you lose the battle. And if they’re not fed well, you lose the battle. And if they have no ammunition, or boots, or guns, you lose the battle. Napoleon lost at Waterloo because his artillery wasn’t there. Hitler lost in Russia because he hadn’t planned on the massive Russian logistical advantage, their superior understanding of weather and terrain conditions in their own country, and the vulnerability of his very long supply lines.
Every army has a whole support apparatus. It has cooks, wagonmasters, medics, mechanics, paymasters, and the like, or whatever you call such people in whatever kind of military you’re fighting in. But they’re always there. It might be the warriors that make it into the history books more, because history books are by necessity oversimplifications of the real story, and because people are lazy and prefer simple stories of the grand charges and the fierce duels. But the pros know that the difference between victory and defeat is often far more prosaic than that.
The wagon train is always weak, though. It has to be protected. Disrupting supply, attacking the rear and hitting the supply train, is a time-honored tactic of war. The weakness and vulnerability of the supply train doesn’t mean it’s less valuable, however. It’s crucial.
I draw this out to make a particular point about women. I don’t think it’s an accident that there’s a great similarity between one of those quotes- “Behind every great leader there was an even greater logistician,” and one you might also know, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” Women are particularly gifted to enable men to succeed. They provide emotional support and stability. They are great at remembering all the details. That’s why you often see women in support roles- secretary, nurse, housewife. I think of those roles like the wagon train- maybe not as glamorous, but absolutely vital to success. Fewer women make it into the history books than men, but that’s because history books are oversimplifications. I bet if we knew more about the stories of history, we would consistently find women as vital but overlooked parts of the stories, in far more cases than we now know.
The Bible tells us that women are the weaker vessel, but are to be honored for that. They are to be protected and cared for, because they are vital to men’s success. The gifts of women are often not as obvious as the gifts of men, and the simplistic stories tend to favor the man who tends to excel at one thing rather than the woman who tends to excel at keeping all the different pieces together behind the scene. They are also often the soft underbelly, and the devil will attack them. Women away from the protection of men are often easy pickings, which is why false teachers often build their ministry on such women as Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:6. The devil targeted Eve first in his deception, but the blame falls mostly not on her, but on Adam. Women were created to partner with men to enable their joint success. Even Jesus had a lot of women around that supported him. So did Paul (read Romans 16). And in an imperfect world there are exceptions, women who have accomplished great things on their own, single men who achieved much. But we ought not be guided by exceptions but by the rule.
I have two main applications to make here. To men- value your wives. Cherish and protect them. He who loves his wife loves his own flesh, and the more cherished and protected your wife is, the more beneficial she will be to you. Realize how important to your success she is, and tell her that, frequently. A wife that feels valued and vital is far less likely to stray. And to women- don’t envy what you are not. Value what you are. Every cook and mechanic in an army has it drilled into them constantly in training that though they may not get the glory, everyone who knows anything knows how absolutely vital and crucial they are to the success of the army. But a cook who envies the limelight and goes trying to fight battles on their own is likely to get slaughtered. And every experienced pastor I know knows how vital a good wife is to success in the ministry, and how crippling a bad wife is. Don’t tear down your own house; build it up. Value the protection of your husband and build him up to help him provide that protection. Feed and supply him well!
We are not all warriors, and we are not all cooks and mechanics. And that’s OK- God made us to need each other, not to be self-sufficient. And I’m not saying every woman belongs in such-and-such a role, or every man. But I am saying, value what God has made you, submit yourself to His will, realize the excellence of God’s different design for men and women, and explore, in faith and prayer, what this means for you in your particular life and situation. And seek to excel in whatever role God put you in, knowing that every part of the army is vital to success. The devil hates women in particular, I am convinced, recognizing their power but also their vulnerability, and attacks women with contempt for what they are and envy for what they are not, and at the same time attacks men with contempt for the weaker vessel and pride over the ways they excel, and in doing so the devil destroys both the woman and the man.
But through the gospel we can see the excellent design of God for both, and value both, precisely because they are different.