Why Ban Bossy is a Good Start
“Amanda, stop being SO bossy!!” I heard that phrase several times growing up. And, normally, it was my little brother who was screaming it. Fast forward thirty years, and I am raising a little girl who has already been called that label. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, has begun a campaign to ban the word “bossy” from the English vocabulary. On her website www.banbossy.com she says, “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a ‘leader.’ Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy.’”
So, how are we Christian moms, mentors, teachers, and friends to respond to this new campaign? Does bossiness equate leadership? And more importantly, should “bossy” be banned from the Christian’s vocabulary?
There is a positive element to the “ban bossy” campaign.
This campaign is forcing society to have a conversation on leadership and how we view women in leadership. On her Ban Bossy website, Sandberg gives 10 leadership principles for girls. Many of those principles are what Christian parents and teachers should encourage in little girls. For example, we want our daughters to speak up in class (when it is appropriate), talk to a friend who’s hurt or annoyed us instead of gossiping about them, and then ask others for help when we need it. However, in her research, Sandberg found that “92% of girls believe they can learn the skills required to lead—yet only 21% believe they already possess them.”
This tells me that we need to help girls see their potential for leadership and then help them cultivate that for God’s glory.
My two-year old daughter has great leadership potential! She knows exactly what she wants, and she will tell you. On the surface, she is not being bossy or exerting a negative trait. I want her to grow into a woman of conviction who stands up for what she believes. And, the thought of someone calling her “bossy” for her assertiveness and creativity breaks my heart. No child or teenager should be discouraged for exercising leadership qualities. These are the types of people who change the world!
However, there are many elements to the “ban bossy” campaign that are being overlooked.
As Christ followers, we should not seek to be leaders according to the world but according to Jesus’ example.
Listen to the words from Paul: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:3-8).
This view of leadership is counter-cultural.
Jesus’ example says that if you want to be a leader, then learn to serve! If you want to change the world, seek other’s interests before your own! If you want to be someone who stands out, then do not be conceited or selfish!
However, Sandberg proposes that girls should seek ambition, success, and control and use their voice to get it. In reality, the “Ban Bossy” campaign teaches little girls how to be me-focused instead of Christ-focused. It teaches girls how to promote and elevate self instead of elevating and pointing others to Christ. Therefore, at its core, the whole campaign is flawed.
Jesus, who was both God and man, had every right to come as an authoritative figure. He had it within His power to overturn the Roman government and sit on the throne of Israel…and one day He will. But instead, Jesus came as a servant. He washed His disciples’ feet. He called His followers His friends. He did ministry with them instead of ordering them around. Jesus lived life with people.
THIS is the type of leader I want my little girl to be one day!
I want her to consider others before she considers herself. I want her to serve before she demands to be served. And yes, I want her to be assertive without being domineering. I want her to be ambitious for God and use her God-given leadership qualities to do amazing things for God. Ladies, we must model to our daughters and students how to be a strong woman of God who stands for conviction and serves with compassion.
God did not give us leadership qualities to promote self. Instead, we must promote and lead people to Christ.
As Christ-followers, I believe there is a better solution to just banning the word “bossy” from our vocabulary. Let’s be women who model to our daughters and sisters in Christ a life of a servant. As women of God, we need to help them realize how to turn their controlling, domineering nature into one of passion and self-control. In life someone must lead. Let’s be women who are leading and modeling a life that points people to Christ instead of ourselves.