Sunday, September 25, 2011

15 mistakes I made while working with men: Gender differences

Men and Women are Different
            I find it hard to believe that anyone who has seen toddlers playing has not noticed some distinct differences. Usually women who have had girls and boys both are emphatic about the differences between the sexes. I am told that little boys make noises and love to crash things. I know from having a daughter that I did not have to teach her to nurture her stuffed animals or to name each one, dress them up in bows and clothes, and sit them around a little table for a tea party. As we see children growing up, we also see some basic differences between teenage girls and boys. Boys generally like to engage in sports to get to know each other while girls are usually found sitting and talking. I vividly remember going to an Eagle Scout ceremony of a young man that my daughter was dating when she was in high school. When he got up to give his speech, one of the things he told was that his best memories of scouting were going to camps where he got to start fires and blow things up. Wow, somehow it never occurred to me that there were camps where young leaders were encouraged to do this. I have to tell you that the scouting trips that I went on were full of making crafts topped off with campfire cooking, singing, and lots of bedtime chats.
            It was not too long ago that I heard a young minister preach the evening sermon. He did a wonderful job and told the story of a time when he was growing up. His neighborhood had a tree house and apparently the neighborhood nearby had just built a new one. Just after he said this he said, “You know what we had to do?” and then he paused. In my mind, I thought, I guess they went to visit the new tree house to see it. What he said shocked me (although it should not have). He said, “We had to go and destroy it!” This is just another illustration of how vastly different girls and boys are.
            A book I enjoyed reading was John Eldridge’s Wild at Heart. While not everyone may agree with the whole book, I love his statement inside the front cover, “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.”[1] He writes of the concept of men being warriors. I do think he is on to something.
            As a married adult, I continued to learn about the innate differences. We won’t go into all of them but we lovingly label movies as guy movies or chic flicks. I have almost learned not to talk during the five minutes of the sports news, to do my phone talking and chatting before my husband comes home, and that flowers do not need to be on every piece of upholstery in the house. While my husband is certainly outgoing and a conversationalist, I still talk much more than he does and when he has heard enough, somehow his ears seem to shut down and he has an ability to see my mouth move and not hear one word that I am saying. I have learned that if I want him to hear me, I had better say it in bite-sized pieces and give the summary version rather than the dissertation version first.
            These are just some of the things that women have to learn in order to work with men in the workplace. Regardless of whether they are Christian men and women or not, there are some differences. Men and women are made in the image of God and they are, in fact, different. We know that God has a plan and as women and we are created uniquely yet we are equal and important before God. We do need to learn how to work with men so that we can communicate the message that God has given us.
[1] J. Eldredge, Wild at Heart:  Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001). Cover.

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