Saturday, October 1, 2011

15 mistakes I made while working with men: Men & Women are Different

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 was blessed to grow up in a Christian home and as a result, made a commitment to Christ at a young age. I have been around church since I was in the womb and have lived to see and know many Christian leaders, both male and female. I do remember some early conversations with my Dad, during the dating years, when he would try to explain to me that men thought differently than women. I had to just take him at his word because it was years before I realized the fullness of that concept.
            As a young adult in Houston, I knew that God was calling me into the ministry and it was during this time, that I really began to apply what I had learned growing up and at home with my husband, to other men that I was now working with. I can assure you that had my husband not been my coach on how to work with men, that I would not be where I am today. 
            What I begin to realize was that I could never seem to get my point across to the men that I came in contact with. I would go to a retreat where lots of people had accepted Christ and would come back and talk about it, telling all the stories, and often they would look at me like they could not understand a word that I was saying. Their response would be things like, “Well that’s nice. How many did you have?” or “How many decisions were there?” I was so excited and emotional and just overflowing and they were not getting it. The more I talked, the worse it got. I could always tell they were anxious to get away from me. I finally learned that emotional women are scary creatures to men. I also learned that they wanted the bottom line first and that if they wanted more information, they would ask. They also wanted the facts with little emotion. Men seem to be able to put their emotions in a different compartment. For me, I have spent years trying to master that and I can assure you that every single boss that I have had can attest to the fact that sometimes the tears do follow me to the office. Separating my emotions, both positive and negative, has always been a challenge.
            I realize that a few reading this might not appreciate that I am putting men and women in categories. I do not intend to do so. This chapter is more about the tendencies of men and women and the acknowledgement that God created us differently. There have been some times in the office when I took on the role of calming down the men and times that one or more of them has had to pull me down from wanting to climb the highest mountain before I was prepared to do so. At times, we will all defy these differences but generally, the things in this chapter seem to be the things that can be stumbling points in working with the opposite sex.
            I like to explain it this way: Men are different than women. Men tend to think and talk while women tend to share and feel. It is not that men never feel or that women do not think; it is that men usually have a thought and say it while women feel something and then share their feelings. It does make for interesting conversation and certainly is fertile ground for being misunderstood. In order to handle the differences in not only men and women, but people that we work with in ministry, it is important that we begin by remembering some basic principles that we find in Scripture.
Excerpts from Women Leading Women: The Biblical Model for the Church, Chapter Six, Serving with Men, by Jaye Martin.