Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Ladies, it's time to Lead

My flip-flops smacked the floor of the store as I briskly walked-that is, as rapidly as my watermelon-shaped belly would allow. As one child swam in my womb, the other scampered ahead of me. My eyes were focused on the two-year-old who darted towards the alluring gleam of the produce section, but suddenly, as I passed displays of makeup and summertime decorations, a greeting card caught my eye. Script swirled across the front, stating: Some Women Were Made to Lead.

Since my toddler was moving further into the distance, I couldn't pick up the card and I continued to speed-waddle across the floor. Yet, as I took step after step, the phrase from  that greeting card ricocheted through my mind. Some Women Were Made to Lead.

This card may have given an uplifting context on the inside, a positive view for this sentiment. However, the longer this phrase volleyed back and forth in my head, the more uncomfortable I grew.

Are only "some women" made to lead? I wondered. For, whether or not the creator intended it, I could immediately come to this conclusion with one glance at the card. "Some women" designates one group. One specific sector of women who are the leaders, the movers, the people who shake things up. "Some women" does not seem to indicate or include "all women." 

Quite frankly, I believe that this idea-the idea that "some (and not all) women were made to lead"-can be harmful. 

We all have different gifts, strengths, personalities, and vocations. Indeed, some women are more naturally inclined and attracted towards visible leadership positions than others. Some women have gifts and tendencies that suit positions of authority. However, the narrative that "some women were made to lead" presents an incomplete understanding of what being a woman is, and what leading others looks like. It can pull us towards the corners, to lurk in the shadow of others because we believe that they are the women who were "made to lead." 

They are the ones who wear pantsuits or pencil skirts and stilettos while overseeing meetings. 
They are the ones who coordinate all of the activities at church. 
They are the ones whose homes look perfect and whose kids always seem to be clean and tidy. 
They are the ones whom God must have appointed to lead their children, their communities, and the world. 

Ladies, how many times have we told ourselves, I'm not a Leader, I'm a follower-so I will always be a follower even if I want to speak up?
Ladies, how many times have we believed that our temperaments keep us from leading others?
Ladies, how many times have we thought less of ourselves, less of our role in the world because it doesn't seem "important"?
Ladies, how often have we closed ourselves off from even thinking about certain jobs or activities because we are not a "Leader"?

On top of that, how many times do we place other women on pedestals because "those women were made to lead" and then expect them to take all responsibility and initiative for enacting change in our world? How often have these "Leaders" become overwhelmed, burned-out, or pressured in unhealthy ways because they-not us-are the ones who are supposed to lead?

As I look at the varied patchwork of women scattered throughout the years and countries on Earth, I have a declaration, a belief that I grasp onto tightly:

All women were made to lead.

This does not mean that we all have to be in positions of authority or supervise large offices. This does not mean that we need to be visible or designated "Leaders" who always take charge at a moment's notice. Instead, this means that-in some way-all of us were made to lead others. To guide, to nurture, to utilize our gifts to influence the culture and be the change that our world so desperately needs. Whether a woman  begins a nonprofit, homeschools her kids, works as an engineer, or does all of these things, she can be-she is-a leader in some way. 

Look at these women leading by taking care of a child on a bus-that can be quite the impressive feat!
"In the Omnibus," by Mary Cassat (who was quite the leader herself).

At the Last Supper, Jesus Christ-God himself-got down on the floor and began washing the (presumably disgusting) feet of the Apostles. Then, Jesus spoke to them about what he had just done:
"So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him." (Jn 13:12-16)

Here, Christ shows us that leadership is intimately tied with serving others-and it is something we can all aspire to, regardless of age, vocation, or job. Ladies, whether we advocate for ourselves in male-dominated workplaces or quietly go about our lives in a more "behind the scenes" fashion, we are called to this humble servant-leadership that Jesus models for us. 

Just look at all of the women throughout the history of the Catholic Church who led others closer to God, who made a positive impact on the world. From single women working as missionaries (like Edel Quinn) to religious women who founded schools (like St. Katharine Drexel) to women who were mothers (like St. Zelie Martin), there are numerous examples of women who led-and none of them look the same. These women were cloistered nuns and desert mothers, servants and queens, business owners and stay-at-home moms, single women and widowed women. Sisters, we need to embrace the diversity of what it means to lead others. We need to step up, listening to the voice of God as he speaks to us and calls us forth to love and serve others. 

I was made to lead. 
You were made to lead. 
So, let's lead together. 


  1. I absolutley loved this post! It can be so easy to forget that Jesus is calling us to a different kind of leadership.. in a world that focuses on the insta picture perfect woman or the woman in a position of authority. Thanks so much for this beautiful reminder.