Saturday, September 24, 2011

15 mistakes I made while working with men: Intro

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord—you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24, HCSB.

I could not wait to get to staff meeting. I had long waited the day that I would be invited. There I sat, early of course, wide-eyed with my pencil and pad in hand, just waiting for all the excitement to begin. The staff arrived and greeted each other, welcomed me to the table and there it started. It was much like what anyone would expect in a meeting – things like opening with prayer and requests, sharing exciting things that God was doing, discussing Sunday’s services, reviewing the calendar requests, and various reports from different ministry areas. At the conclusion of the meeting, the guys teamed up and went to lunch while the three women in the room went to a lunch place of our own. I loved every minute of it. Maybe it was in the weeks to come that the real revelation began. I was there in every sense of the word but somehow I felt invisible. What I said did not seem to be heard. These were incredible men whom to this day I love and respect. They were more than gracious, considerate, and gave every impression of listening to me, but much of what I said did not seem to be understood. Somehow there was this communication gap. Most of what I had to share just did not seem to be heard. One of the most revealing things of all to me was the decisions that were made seemed to be made before the meeting. These guys had connections with each other. Decisions were made at lunch, on the golf course, watching the ball game, and who knows where else. By the time they got to staff meeting, they all seemed to agree. Some weeks, a decision would be communicated in the meeting and by the next week it would have changed. Then one day it hit me. It wasn’t that they were leaving me out or trying to keep things from me, there was just a gender difference that I had to figure out.
            Men and women working together can be quite a challenge. Even in the best of situations, there are some things that I learned the hard way that I’d like to share. For those of us who find ourselves of the female gender, it is no secret that learning to adapt to a man’s world is just an average fact of life. From the moment we are born into this world, the adapting begins. It is not something most of us even think much about, it is simply the way it is. Serving with men in ministry can be an awesome experience.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of my tips and my stories with you. My prayer is that you will not make the same mistakes that I did!

Excerpts from Women Leading Women: The Biblical Model for the Church, Chapter Six, Serving with Men, by Jaye Martin.