There’s a North American Christian women ideal of being submissive, quiet and humble.
I have never been described as submissive, quiet or humble.
It’s hard to be a passionate, strong woman in evangelical circles and I have found ways to veil my intensity so as to be more acceptable in this subculture.
Only I don’ think that’s really what God intended.
I’m not sure he gave me a gift of preaching so I could be silent.
I’m not sure he gave me a gift of leadership so I could refuse to use it.
I’m not sure he gave me a gift of strength and ask only that I show up in a position of weakness.
I’m just also not sure what that always looks like. Sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I get it wrong.
I’ve needed the freedom stories of the Christine Caines, Sheryl Sandbergs, and other women who give permission for women to be strong, passionate and successful.
I’ll never forget hearing Sheryl Sandberg talk about how the same traits in little kids are treated differently: boys are praised for leadership and girls are called bossy. She spoke strongly against that and I was brought back to my own childhood (yes, I was called bossy a lot!)
… then I find myself using that same word for my little girl. My fierce warrior who’s passionate, strong and intense. She’s younger than most of her playmates but is almost always in charge. She’s got vision, direction, opinions and enough zest for life to inspire others to do what she asks, and she takes advantage of it.
And I tell her not to be so bossy.
I tell her to be kinder.
I tell her to listen better.
I tell her to be more compassionate.
It’s like looking at a mirror of myself – and yes, I do need to practice kindness & compassion since they don’t come naturally. I do need to learn to listen better.. But I don’t want her growing up believing her strength is something to hide, her opinions something to quiet, her vision something to keep to herself. I want her to use her strength for God’s kingdom.
So when I saw a Christian book was coming out for 6-9 year old girls called Fearless Leader
, I picked it up.
It was incredible.
What a fantastic book! Written for young girls (mine are 7 & 8) this story book is so well written, with unbelievable illustrations and both a Bible story and a topic that were incredibly relevant to us.
It’s a creative re-telling of Deborah’s story from the book of Judges – a hard story to handle well with kids, but the authors did a spectacular job. They captured the terror and discouragement of God’s people under attack and handled the gruesome battle & victory with taste and wisdom. Also, Deborah’s humility, courage, protectiveness and confidence in God was clear. Deborah’s pretty cool, but God’s the real hero in this story – I LOVED that.
There’s also some reflection questions to end the story that actually got us talking.
I was so impressed with this book I’ll absolutely be looking for more from this series!
But mostly what I loved is how it celebrated Deborah’s courage and strength without belittling anyone else. Her leadership was used to bless her people. Her strength was used to protect those she loved. Her courage was used to risk her own well-being to seek the good for others.
And that’s what godly leadership, passion and strength is – used to protect, encourage and call God’s people to action. And that’s something we can celebrate.
Do you have a daughter who’s a leader? Sheryl Sandberg’s tips for fostering healthy leadership in girls is fantastic. Read it here.