One of the greatest joys over my career in Student Ministry has been working alongside good, godly men who have pointed me to Jesus. It truly has been a privilege, and I’ve learned so much from serving on their teams and in their ministries. While It’s been a huge blessing, it’s not always easy. Let’s just be honest – men think and process way differently than most women, and no matter how you serve in Student Ministry, you would be wise to learn how to best communicate with the men you’re serving with. We have all been created in the image of God – equal in value, but different in roles (Genesis 1:27). Jen Wilkin wisely says it like this, “While we are created equal in value and dignity as image-bearers and co-rulers of creation, we are distinct from one another in good and mutually beneficial ways.”
The aim of this post today is to give some helpful tools, most of which have to do with communication. I’m not asking you to be anyone but yourself, but also to think about your audience as you lead. If you’re in a situation where this is really challenging, know that I’m praying for you today. This isn’t a “one size fits all” conversation, but I hope that we can learn from each other as we journey together in ministry. Most of these thoughts and ideas have come from women that I’ve learned from over the years, so I hope it’s helpful to you today!
- Speak and write in bullet points, not paragraphs. Yall. This is huge. I can’t tell you how much it has helped my communication with the men I work with. Honestly, I usually edit any email I send my boss before I send it – I take out phrases like “I just think…” I remove extra exclamation points, and I try to make myself as clear as possible. Even in a meeting, I try to be really clear and straightforward with my thoughts, and not sound like I’m second guessing myself.
- Be really clear in communication. Whenever I text or email one of the men on my team, I always try to give the full story of what I’m asking. My former boss, Faith Whatley, has taught this to countless women here at Lifeway. It’s for our own protection as well as theirs. Rather than texting, “What time are we meeting?” I’ll text, “What time are we meeting to talk about the budget?” Even though your intentions are right and clear, take out any room for confusion.
- Learn how he processes information. This is one of the most practical things you can do. Each person I work with (whether male or female) processes information slightly differently, and it’s to my benefit to learn how to best communicate with them. With my current boss, I’ve learned that bringing an agenda to meetings we have together is incredibly helpful. He can see where we’re headed, and knows what to expect. Without the agenda, I just tend to ramble and can easily lose his attention. Our meetings have become so much more productive with this small change!
- Show honor to one other. This one (and really all of these) go both ways. Just as we want to be shown honor and respect, we need to also give those things to the men we work with. Even if you’re in a situation where all of this is incredibly difficult, show respect and honor in the way you talk about the men (and women) you work with. Don’t contribute to the problem, but try to be a part of the solution. Pray that God would give you wisdom as you navigate rough waters, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it. If you’re not being respected or honored, have a conversation with the person who has offended you (Matthew 18) and take any necessary next steps. Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Do your part to do the right thing, even when it’s hard.
One of the best things I’ve seen happen over the years is that if they haven’t already learned these same things about me, when I begin to be intentional in the ways I communicate and work with them, they also make similar shifts in the way they work with me. It’s been almost always mutually beneficial, and I’m really grateful. I’d love to hear from you in the comments with more ways we can better communicate and work with the men we serve alongside.