Just while searching for images to head up this post, I had the hardest time finding images of men and women that didn’t have sexual or romantic overtones! I believe it’s a lie that men and women can’t work and grow together without developing romantic feelings. I really do. I have more faith in us as women and men, brothers and sisters in Christ. So that’s what we’ll be talking about today, our bonds and fellowship with men who we are not married to. They could be our sons (as a mother of a teenage son, with dear women in my life who also have teenage sons that make them crazy, I’m tempted to write a whole post on mothers and sons alone!), they could be our co-workers, men we work with at church or in our ministry, our fathers, our brothers, really, any man we encounter.
My first point to make when we think about our ties with men is that they are ALL our brothers. They have all been created by God our loving Father, who is their Father too and loves them and wants light for them just as He does for us. They are all worthy of love, and as fellow human beings, they flourish when given respect and sisterly love. If we keep that knowledge foremost in our minds, it’ll keep our relationships with men in the path of light.
The second important principle in dealing with all people, but with men especially is FREEDOM. With co-workers, young boys in your care, or men who you may be supervising, obviously, your word is where the buck stops, and to a certain degree, they must be willing to live by your rules. “I need you to complete this report by next Tuesday”, or “Do not run into the street!” of necessity don’t allow for a lot of freedom. What I’m talking about, are the areas that do allow for freedom. In my opinion, when dealing with men, the most amount of freedom that can be given in any given situation (without allowing your boundaries to be crossed, or hurting you), should be given. Wow. And this comes from a complete control freak. But I am learning. Oceans have been crossed so that freedom could be practiced, wars have been fought so that men could enjoy their freedom, and men have laid down their very lives for it. Freedom to act is a principle, created by God. When given freedom, men can breathe, think without barriers, and be receptive to new ideas, even yours! Resist the urge to micro-manage what is someone else’s responsibility because you think he might fail. So much easier said, than done. But so worth doing.
This next point works so much better when the above principles (men as God’s children, and freedom) are well established in our minds. As women, we have special gifts unique to our sex given to us by God to help men. We are ready to reach out to others, even before they put that pink bow on our heads in the hospital. The language centers of our brains are larger than in those of men, and “women typically have a larger deep limbic system than men, which allows them to be more in touch with their feelings and better able to express them, which promotes bonding with others”. And if you were to go out into the street, and ask 500 men if they believed in WOMEN’S INTUITION, I would bet $1,000, that the vast majority would say “yes”. It exists. I’m not totally sure how it functions, or what it even is, but it exists. This all makes us fantastic confidantes, counselors, mentors, and clarity givers. We can be the magnifying glass that focuses a man’s attention on something he may not have noticed before, or we can be a telescope, helping him to see the big picture! 1) Ask leading questions, (“Have you ever thought of it this way?” “What would YOU like to have happen?” “Have you considered the possibility that…”) 2) Listen carefully before charging in with advice. Listen between the lines. What is he really saying? 3) Express your insight and wisdom, always remembering that as a women you are powerful in your role to invite men into paths of light. Do not give in to ulterior motives that are not in line with God’s will! 4) Let him drink from your fountain of wisdom and take as much or as little as he wants from it, no pressure. 5) Build on his strengths and appreciate the man he is. Express your belief in his ability to find solutions and be a man of influence for good in the world.
I know that men of all ages need the friendship, the support, and the counsel of Godly women who are looking to build them up and point them to paths of light, truth, and strength. We can be a safe, non-judgmental place where men can express emotion, vulnerability, and receive strength, sisterly love, and wisdom.
May God grant us the ability and the grace to be a light in the darkness for all men, everywhere.