I’m especially excited about this issue of the newsletter because I get to announce our new on-demand workshop, Better Together: A Conversation about Men and Women Working Together.
This workshop series is designed to be less about imparting information and more about testing our assumptions and imagining better possibilities. It contains five sessions, 145-minutes of studio-quality audio, and a 42-page workbook.
And in honor of launching this new workshop series, I thought it would be fun to share some excerpts to highlight what this project is about and why it exists.
Thank you for reading. I hope it will spark honest and creative conversation and re-imagining for you.
Why did you decide to create this workshop series?
Jim: We are doing this because we believe it is God’s design for men and women to collaborate together as equals in the missional life. I wanna say that again. I think it’s pretty central to what we’re doing. We believe that it is God’s design for men and women to collaborate as equal in the missional life.
Trisha: We care about this a lot. This is not just an issue to us, but it is our real life. It’s something that we care about deeply and that we’ve been working on in our own lives for a long, long time… Everywhere we see the body of Christ at work, we see, I think, women and men together in ways that are sometimes beautiful, sometimes really dysfunctional, and almost always challenging… We acknowledge that the design has been distorted, that it is hard to see God’s original dream sometimes in what we’ve done in our relationships between men and women, but for us this conversation is rooted in who God is and rooted in the creation story.
How do social norms and expectations impact how women learn to communicate?
Trisha: I’ve been able to see all the ways that I’ve been conditioned or socialized to not be direct, as a girl, as a young woman, and even to this day. To not be direct, to not be bossy, to go along to get along. And in particular, this might make you laugh, but I remember reading a book in high school about how to get a guy to think an idea was his idea so that the relationship wouldn’t be as threatening to him. And there’s a ton of research that goes along with this, one of thousands of examples, that when a male executive talks more, not even studying the kind of communication, he just talks more than his peers do. He is rated 10% higher in competence. And when a woman executive talks more than her peers, she is rated 14% lower in competence.
Why is it important women have a seat at the table?
Jim: It will make us more whole. It will give us a bigger perspective… Your perspective is different than mine, your training is different than mine. You see things I don’t see and vice versa, and it’s just not a question for me anymore if our work is better when we do it together.
Trisha: And we said from the beginning, we think that’s part of the design, but what you’re saying is, it doesn’t just have to be about altruism, it can be because it actually improves things.
Boundaries and The Billy Graham Rule
Jim: When we look at the brokenness in the world where we are living in fear and anger, we’re reminded of the risk of not bringing the gifts of both men and women. And so I wanna say it in a different kind of way. The mistake we make is when we say there’s a binary choice here. We can either abide by the Billy Graham rule on one side, or that’s the ditch on one side, and then the ditch on the other side is no boundaries at all, and of course, we’re not saying that either. The problem with the Billy Graham rule is that it doesn’t call us to maturity.
Trisha: And so like you said, what we want to hold up is the idea that we can learn as human beings, as disciples of Jesus to love maturely. While at the same time acknowledging that because of our immaturity, both personal immaturity and cultural immaturity, the rules have actually not been working that well… And because of our immaturity, the rules both don’t work and have unintended impact.
Do men have to be diminished in order for women to be empowered?
Jim: I think there are two answers to that question, and I don’t think that they oppose each other, but I think they’re just different ways of thinking about it. When you’re thinking about power dynamics, what you and I have discovered is that by me sharing power with you, my own power has been increased because I’m more effective, our organization does better work, we get invited into more places, and so there is a sense in which men are not diminished that if they could actually get that by sharing power, there’s something about that that multiplies it. And so part of my answer is no. A part of my answer is yes. And what the yes answer is, is that any change, even if it’s a change you want, involves some loss. I mean, you and I have a hundred stories to tell about hard conversations about things that we’ve had to figure out and work out. And where behaviors, not just for me, but for you, where behaviors have had to change. And so there is some loss that’s involved where I can’t just do what I’ve always done and at that level, there is some sense of being diminished I think.
What is one thing holding us back from more fully living into God’s design for men and women?
Trisha: We have a failure of imagination about how things can be, but if we start with this is about justice, then we can figure out how to make it work. We can imagine something different and more powerful than we imagined before.
You can go to https://theleadersjourney.us/better-together/ to learn more and get access to Better Together.
If you have any questions, you can reply to this email or email Trisha directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know anyone you think would benefit from this newsletter or the workshop series, we would love it if you'd share it with them.
Thank you for taking the time to read this issue of the newsletter. We are really excited to be sharing this workshop series with you and the world!