My wife is Women’s Ministry Director at our local church, and in previous years I have helped to set up, serve, and “take down” at the annual women’s conference. But often I found “something else to do” during the conference itself. One might even say that I was finding “anything” else to do rather than be caught in a room with 300 women!
This year, however, I purposed to stick around and listen to the entire conference (from a safe distance in the sound booth!). Although my wife and I have been married for 3-1/2 decades, it helped me to understand more about how Christian women think, how they relate to each other, how they relate to God, and what they appreciate.
Men: Read on, if you dare!
Men are Not the Only Ones Who are “Visual”
OK, OK. I know that when women accuse us of being “visual only,” they are emphasizing our focus on how they look. But how things “look” is also important to them in order to create an atmosphere that is welcoming and one that better leads to worship.
For a men’s conferences, the most important questions we have are “round or rectangular tables” and “Do want your steak rare, medium, or burnt.” That is it! I wonder if we so minimize the trappings around us, that we sometimes miss out on the character of God. After all, He certainly spent a lot of time, words, and Scripture to tell the people of Israel exactly how he wanted the tabernacle and temple built. And each detail is meant to be a symbol of who God is and a shadow of the Messiah/Christ which was to come.
So when I walked into to sanctuary, my first thought was: “How much time was
wasted spent (sorry, Ladies) discussing, designing, and building these decorations?” But as I saw the women stream into this room – slowly at first, and then in groups – it was obvious that they had successfully created an atmosphere that put them in the mood to expect something unusual. Beauty was important to these women.
Women have Different Strongholds than Men:
At first, I must admit that I had trouble following the speaker’s points. There seemed to be little structure to what she was saying. But did it have an impact! God was using her messages to speak into the lives of women where they were hurting; areas in their lives that held them in bondage.
Many of these women had tried with little or no success to cope with fear, shame, . . . . . areas in which we as men do not often struggle. It is easy to challenge and even condemn the women in our lives for allowing such “silly” (from our perspective) challenges to overpower them. After all, we don’t have any “problems” in these areas.
But as I reflected, I began to realize that God has wired us differently. Often our struggles are more with pride, anger, lust, envy. Our strongholds are no less damaging (and even devastating) to our relationships with God, our wives and children, and others.
Women are More Willing to Place Their Strongholds/Struggles Before God
Our God is an emotional God. Women’s tendencies for shame, guilt, and fear often drive them to seek the forgiveness, comfort and acceptance that Christ offers. We as men seem to hold back and find it harder to admit that we can’t do it on our own. I witnessed many women quickly acknowledging their pain and the overwhelming hopelessness that they experience.
Women are more comfortable and open with their emotions.
After identifying many of the strongholds that women frequently face, the speaker offered a time of prayer to place these issues before Christ. Two dozen women were at the front of the church, many sobbing. As men, our pride often prevents us from humbling ourselves before God. And without humility and seeing our need for His transforming power, God can not work.
Women need to be encouraged to think about themselves.
This was perhaps the most surprising difference between how men and women often view themselves. Women often live their lives serving others: their husbands, their children, their friends. And they do not take the time to identify their own needs. They are exhausted by the demands on their priorities, energy, and emotions. They need to be encouraged that they are a treasure to God and He longs for them to experience that.
As men, we often put ourselves first. God must deal with our lack of humility. We often rationalize our focus on our careers as “taking care of the family.” Or we leave our wives to take care of the family as we enjoy our “me time” (hunting, sports, etc.)
What Does this Mean to Me, as a Man?
I know there are exceptions to the above statements. These are just a few of the differences that stood out to me as I contrasted them to what I have learned to expect in the men’s conferences that I have attended.
The truth I took away from this experience is that we, as males, display and exhibit part of the character of God. But what I saw last weekend encompassed the other half. If we want to get a fuller glimpse of who He is, let’s be better students of His creation—both male and female.
After working as a Chemical Engineer for 36 years, Steve Fox took early retirement so that he could focus his full-time attention on helping others to discover how to improve or repair their marriages as well as other family relationships. Steve also helps others begin to “dream” about what will help them become fulfilled in their career and life.
Steve earned an MA in Counseling from LSU and is now a National Certified Counselor and Counselor Intern with Crossroads. He has worked with couples on a ministry basis for over 20 years and has a counseling focus with couples, families, career coaching, and addiction counseling with families.
Steve’s complete bio can be found here.