Does Leading Like A Girl Mean You’re A Badass?

(hat tip to Landon Whitsitt for this one)

The leader of the free world welcomed the U.S. women’s soccer team to the White House yesterday after that team won the World Cup last summer. In his remarks during the ceremony, the President said, “This team taught all America’s children that ‘playing like a girl’ means you’re a badass…”

Badass.

Bad. Ass.

“Playing like a girl” means you’re a badass.

I wrote a post a while ago about female Presbyterian leaders I’m learning from, so President Obama’s use of “badass” yesterday makes me wonder if the same thing is true of “leading like a girl” as is “playing like a girl,” if the former means you’re a badass in the same way as does the latter. Because the component virtues of badassness (toughness, resilience, assertiveness) are more easily celebrated on the athletic field than in the pulpit, aren’t they? Isn’t it true that for a woman to lead like a badass, especially in the church, still, in 2015, unfairly subjects her to that other descriptor beginning with “B?”

And yet the female leaders I’ve worked with in the church are all badasses in some way. They’re not jerks or bullies or egomaniacs, charges they–more so than their male counterparts–may hear as a result of their confident leadership. Still, they don’t soft-pedal, and they don’t diminish. They lead with conviction, and they take risks for the sake of their work.

And yet the call to leadership in the church, for women and men alike, is not a call to badassery qua badassery. The baddest badasses employ loads of restraint, compassion, and listening to go with their bold talk. The central paradox of Christian discipleship–strength in weakness; wisdom in foolishness; life in death–informs badass leadership far more than some American cultural norm of imposing your will on others.

No doubt that paradox is loaded with cultural baggage for women in church leadership positions that men aren’t asked to carry. So I’m learning a lot from those who I see carrying it like badasses.

Because I want to be a badass too.

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