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Male-Female Staff Dynamics

By Mark Littleton

We must constantly work at making sure the male-female dynamic works for us and not against us.Here are some guidelines in making the male-female dynamic positive and productive on a church staff.

Much has been written about the difference between males and females. God has designed us that way, and that is good. But a high level of respect must be demonstrated if the dynamics of male and female relationships are to be positive and productive on a church staff.

Close working relationships develop between men and women on staff. Sometimes that intimacy becomes dangerous to both parties. Therefore, it is wise to build a respect that protects relationships from becoming detrimental.

Bobbie Maloney has been on our staff for 13 years. She started attending our church over 20 years ago. The new life she found in a personal relationship with Jesus filled her with enthusiasm for serving the Lord. She was at the church nearly every day serving in various ways and continually asking questions about her new faith. I immediately connected her with my wife, and they became dear friends. While Bobbie and I have worked closely over the years, she has worked more closely with my wife.

Here are some guidelines I have found helpful in making the male-female dynamic positive and productive.

  • Number one is respect. We must highly respect each person in regard to personality, giftedness, and gender. Without respect, there is no true trust that fosters effectiveness.
  • Work together with impeccable integrity in male-female relationships. Never allow any inappropriate thoughts or actions to take root. Take the advice of Barney Fife and nip it in the bud.
  • Learn how to give meaningful encouragement without any overtones that could be misinterpreted. Beware of saying things to the opposite sex that might incite the wrong kind of thinking. Rather than saying, "You look beautiful today," mention peripherals that are neutral in tone. "That dress looks nice."
  • Develop safeguards that clearly establish limits on traveling together, lunch meetings, length of meeting time together, etc. Let your staff and mate know your safeguards so they can hold you accountable. I have on occasion given this information to the church.
  • Avoid getting involved in sharing personal problems that would lead to intimate discussions.
  • Work together as if your mate (if you are married) were present.

Men and women will many times bring a different perspective to ministry. We are extremely wise in building on the positive side of being different. Each gender has a vital contribution to make. We must constantly work at making sure the male-female dynamic works for us and not against us. In following guidelines such as those above, you can circumvent the kinds of mishaps that might develop.

Vernon Armitage, senior pastor Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Liberty, Missouri, with Mark Littleton