Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

Men and Women at Work

on June 11, 2015
Image courtesy of stock images/freedigitalimages.net

Image courtesy of stock images/freedigitalimages.net

Recently, I was at a conference for Christian peacemakers and reconcilers where I met new friends and colleagues. One of my new colleagues and I had a meaningful conversation about our backgrounds, the conference, our callings and about him recently taking his position as pastor of a small, rural church nearby. We ended up discussing the possibility of my working with his church since I am looking for a job.

This man is a networker. A couple of times when we talked over lunch, he mentioned ways he might be helpful in connecting me to people. Also, he is kind. When we passed the book table, I pointed out a book I might buy at a later time, and he bought it on the spot and gave it to me.

I noted he wore a wedding band, and, rightfully, concluded he was married. It seemed curious to me, therefore, that though he mentioned his children during our conversation, he did not mention his wife.

A few days later, at his invitation I visited the church. The small congregation was full of seniors, which he had prepared me to expect. The people greeted me warmly. My colleague’s children participated in the service, but I noticed again, curiously, that his wife was not present.

Because this colleague is male, was going out of his way to assist me along my journey, was super attentive to me and also attractive, I felt the need to bring his wife into our conversation. Thus, after church, when he began to talk more about my potentially working with him, I said, “Tell me, what role does your wife have at the church? I don’t think I met her this morning.”

To make a long story short, it seems that his wife and he have happily agreed that, because of her job, she would not relocate with him but instead remain where they used to live. The family drives up to see her on the weekends, or she drives down to see them. She does not attend the church.

The more I talked to him, attempting to clarify where he thought I might be helpful to his small, older congregation, it became clear that he had a need for a conversation partner, for intellectual engagement, for support during his interactions with the congregation.

Hmm …

Isn’t that, kind of, what wives do?

I do not believe this man was (consciously) inviting me into an inappropriate relationship. It’s very common for men in leadership positions to have assistants to carry their briefcases, as it were; assistants who walk beside them and mostly listen, ask questions, learn, and follow orders. In my colleague’s mind, he is perhaps hoping to build this kind of apprentice relationship with someone new to ministry.

My single, female mind, however, perceives this man’s vulnerability and, more importantly, my own vulnerability. His wife’s absence from their home, his not mentioning his wife, his not having a particular job in mind for me, but merely a generalized wish to have me around are not good signs. These things signal to me that my being a woman–an attractive, available, nearby woman–is an issue here. It seemed to me that it would be to my peril, and his and the church’s, if I overlooked or minimized this.

I graciously declined his offer to work at the church.

As a single woman have you ever experienced challenges navigating a professional relationship with a man either inside or outside of the church?

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2 responses to “Men and Women at Work

  1. nosyjosie says:

    Wow! I have to say that I commend you for your decision. I know that you may not even feel that to be necessary due to the integrity that you possess but IT IS.

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