If you were going to pick five words to describe me, at different points in my life, I would not be shocked if you used "bossy" as one of those five words. A few years ago, a student thought he was sending his friend a text about me. Instead, he sent me that text, and it read "she's so bossy." I remember a boy who picked on me regularly in elementary school and told me I was bossy. I wasn't surprised in either case. Because they were right. But over the past few years, God has been working on my heart and showing me what a not-good thing this is. I was never taught that it was good, but I guess I'm a slower learner and am just getting it now.
Because of a new campaign that lots of people have been promoting, I have been thinking about this more often. If you go to www.banbossy.com, you'll learn that people think girls are called bossy more often than boys (which may be true, and is unfair), and this causes them to shirk back from their leadership abilities and allow boys to take their places. I get it. I have been called bossy more than once, I have felt like boys interrupted me when I was trying to speak, I have been around people who didn't think I should be in leadership because I'm a woman. But here's the thing. Just because other people have offended me, it doesn't make bossiness okay. Leadership and bossiness are two different things; we should celebrate leadership, but not bossiness.
In me, bossiness is sin. Bossiness is about getting my way, making my voice heard, getting others to do what I want. It tramples over others and paves a way for me. There is nothing about a bossy temperament that echoes the life God has called me to. These words from Ephesians 4:2 have been imprinted on my mind for two years now:
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."
Humility. Gentleness. Love. These are the words that speak to me about who I am to be. Over and over, Scripture points us to others instead of ourselves. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit; in humility consider others more highly than yourself." (Phil 2:3) The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. I am trying to teach and live these concepts (teaching is so much easier than living them!) as the primary descriptors of a Christ-centered life.
I understand that we need to lift girls up for leadership, and not stifle them. I also notice regularly that we need to lift up boys in leadership too. We have many more girls who lead in our youth group than boys. And if any of them - boy or girl - are bossy, I'm not going to ignore it. I don't want to ban bossy; I want to ban bossiness. From my heart, most of all. We are given power, but not the power to domineer over others (as the definition of "bossy" states). Paul reminds Timothy how to use the gifts he has been given. "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Power, love, and self-discipline together enable us with what we need to step into the gifts God has given to us.
So if I am bossy, please let me know (or accidentally send me a text about it). I don't want my daughters to be bossy; I want them to be humble and kind. I don't believe we need more bossy people; we need more humble ones. We need to bear with one another in love, consider others, and allow God to form us who he has already called us to be.