Why I Want These “Feminine” Qualities

*picture above: Coptic Ethiopian painting of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. 

I couldn’t resist clicking. The title read, What a Leader Needs Now: 7 ‘Feminine’ Qualities. And here’s what the Inc.com article had to say…

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Labeling traits as masculine or feminine reflects popular perception rather than evidence-based fact.

But it’s a handy way to think about what works in organizations today. The following qualities, traditionally identified with women, produce results for leaders of both genders.

Empathy: Being sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others.

Vulnerability: Owning up to one’s limitations and asking for help.

Humility: Seeking to serve others and to share credit.

Inclusiveness: Soliciting and listening to many voices.

Generosity: Being liberal with time, contacts, advice, and support.

Balance: Giving life, as well as work, its due.

Patience: Taking a long-term view.

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Here’s why I want these “feminine” qualities: because they sound an awful lot like Jesus.

I’m not going to lie, it bothers me when the ways of Jesus are dismissed as “effeminate.” In my opinion, peace-making is not pitiful or weak. Neither is kindness. Or love. But then again, I don’t think women are pitiful or weak either.

Macho dude-bro talk in the church has done much to perpetuate harmful gender role ideas, often reinforcing them as being “biblical.”

Not too long ago, the words of a certain Seattle area celebrity pastor were both applauded and gleefully repeated. Here are a few samples…

I’ll be happy when we have more than just prom songs to Jesus sung by some effeminate guy on an acoustic guitar. 

Some emergent types want to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in his hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. In Revelation, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down his leg, a sword in his hand, and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.

Jesus and Paul were serious dudes. They had teeth missing. Jesus was a carpenter. Paul was in prison. These guys didn’t eat tofu dogs and bean sprouts. They didn’t play tennis. Same thing with King David. Yeah, he might have played a lyre, but he slaughtered thousands of guys.

You have been told that God is a loving, gracious, merciful, kind, compassionate, wonderful, and good sky fairy who runs a day care in the sky and has a bucket of suckers for everyone because we’re all good people. That is a lie… God looks down and says, “I hate you, you are my enemy and I will crush you.”

Church today, it’s just a bunch of nice, soft, tender, chickified church boys. Sixty percent of Christians are chicks, and the forty percent that are dudes are still sort of chicks.

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I remember when I first heard some of these comments. My reaction was one of being stunned. I couldn’t believe this was for real – not some kind of absurd joke. Because that’s exactly what it sounded like: a parody.

I sensed that the words “feminine” and “chicks” were being used as insults, like how an immature and cruel child on the playground might call someone a “retard.” This leads me to ask, are feminine qualities pitiful deficiencies? And is being masculine the same thing as being superior?

I also sensed that Jesus was being made into the image of something different, something other than who he is… someone bent on revenge, bloodthirsty, looking to destroy his enemies. A fighter, not a forgiver. A warrior, not a wounded healer.

This image of Jesus seemed particularly ludicrous to me. It reminds me of the SNL two-minute sketch that lampooned Quentin Tarantino’s “gift” for turning tragic history into gory revenge… and imagined what Tarantino might do with the crucifixion and resurrection. It was called “DJesus Uncrossed,” and it was unholy in every way.

Blogger David R. Henson wrote about it, saying…

No doubt, a lot of people are upset, or are going to be upset, about SNL’s recent skit “DJesus Uncrossed.” But you won’t hear any complaints about the sketch from me. That’s because even though the sketch satirized Tarantino, it also said something quite profound and revealing, if unintentionally, about how Americans have remade Jesus in our own violent images.

Because, if truth be told, we’ve been trying to uncross Jesus for decades in this country, long before SNL got their pens into him.

We have tried to arm him with our military-industrial complex, drape him with our xenophobia, outfit him with our weapons, and adorn him with our nationalism. We’ve turned the cross into a flagpole for the Stars and Stripes. We have no need for Tarantino to reimagine the story of Jesus into a fantasy of violent revenge. We’ve done it for him.

We’ve already uncrossed him, transforming him from a servant into a triumphalist who holds the causes and interests of our country on his back.

The SNL sketch pulls back the curtain and shows us just how twisted our Jesus really is: we want a Savior like the one SNL offers. We want the Son of God to kick some ass and take some names. Specifically, our enemies’ names. And maybe the names of a few godless Democrats. Definitely the Muslims. And the atheists. And the… I could go on.

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No, I do not believe Jesus is coming back for revenge. In fact, when He ascended into heaven, the disciples were met by some angels who asked them why they were staring into the sky, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” —Acts 1.11

Did you catch that? This same Jesus. This same foot-washing, forgiving, healing, saving, restoring, loving, peace-making Jesus. He’s not coming back in Quentin Tarantino fashion.

And this brings me back to the concept of gender…

I don’t care what people think is manly or effeminate. My goal is to be like Jesus. If people think forgiveness is effeminate, oh well. I guess I will be effeminate.

Brian Zahnd said, “It’s not ‘biblical manhood’ that we want, but Christ-like manhood. Because biblical manhood, what the heck is that??!!!? I mean, you know—who should we present as a role model for men? Moses the murderer? I mean, he’s a good guy, but he did commit murder, ya know. Elijah? With his fiery temper, calling down fire to burn up his enemies? Abraham? ‘Eh, she’s my sister, you can have her.’ Jacob? Cheating and conniving and stealing his way to the top until he becomes a success? David? Eh, he had his moment but then he had his moments. And don’t get me started on Sampson, Lord no! We’re Christians. We’re not called to ‘biblical manhood,’ we’re called to Christ-like manhood. That’s different.”

I’m going to worry less about if something is manly or feminine and be more concerned with if it is like Jesus.


Related posts: I’m Not (Much Of) A Man. Can You Help? And, Confusing Anger With Kindness.



I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

4 Comments to Why I Want These “Feminine” Qualities

  1. (Deep breath.) WOW, Brian. You nailed it, my brother. Thank you for articulating so powerfully something that has been thrumming in many of our hearts (“our” includes both genders, by the way) for a long time. If, by the way, Jesus was the “hyper-masculine macho dude” described by the certain celebrity pastor you quoted, that would eliminate more than half the population from ever hoping (or probably even wanting) to be like Him. But I want to be like Him. Oh, how I do. And I’m more grateful with each passing day that His heart is equally open to young and old, rich and poor, male and female, weak and strong, the burly and the beautiful and the broken of every tribe, race and language. Whether male or female, we are each made in His image and His image is best expressed in the redeemed lives of us all.

  2. Kristin Carson Loehrmann

    This was hearty stuff. (Not heart – y, because, ewww – how femme.) ;) This just shows me how “in the dark” I am about a lot of Christian “issues.” Women in the ministry is still an issue? I thought the collective “we” had evolved beyond that by now. Bummer.

  3. I notice you only include one biblical Scripture about the ascension. Can you cite any of the Scriptures which deal with gender to support your position?

  4. Hi Brian,

    Great post!

    Most of the feminine leaders are familiar with having to fight with the system to reach their goals. And to do it they need to think outside the box. They do not refrain from inquiring commercial procedures and business configurations. Above all, they unusually discover pioneering solutions to workplace issues, even if it requires getting on the road less travelled.

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