How to Uphold Biblical Community in Male/Female Work Relationships

At the ministry where I serve, we strive to foster relational community within every supervisory relationship. We want to be brothers and sisters in Christ together, not just coworkers. To that end, we intentionally take time within each meeting to worship, pray, and engage in relational community – briefly sharing how God’s been at work in our lives.

Sticky Questions

1. What happens when the supervisory relationship is between two members of the opposite sex? 2. Isn’t there an inherent danger in a male and female communicating beyond work issues?

3. On the other hand, if we don’t build spiritual community in that relationship doesn’t it become stifled?

4. Additionally, if a male manager isn’t engaging in relational community with his female supervisor, how does he learn to instill it in those he supervises?

These issues – while tricky – aren’t impossible to overcome. Establishing wise parameters will enable you to create a culture for healthy, productive male/female relationships within your organization.

In the 30-some years I’ve been in ministry, I’ve experienced different boundaries in opposite sex relationships. My relationship with one board chairman was strictly business, and we met in a public setting to discuss the board meeting agenda. Another board chair and I had mutual interests beyond the ministry, but kept those conversations to a minimum and reviewed the board agenda by phone. In a third scenario, a board chairman regularly stopped by my office to discuss ministry and personal issues. The relationship was righteous, but another board member pointed out how it could be viewed by others. I quickly adjusted both the content and location for those meetings.

6 Considerations for Healthy Community in Opposite Sex Relationships

1. Never Just Two. When incorporating worship, prayer, and relational community into department meetings, the best rule of thumb is to not have a male and female engaging in these as a two-some.  

2. Minimum of Three. When you have a male supervising a female, or vice versa, select one additional employee to participate in times of worship, prayer, and community-building. Determine who is the most appropriate person based on relationship and commonality of work responsibilities.

3. Expand an Existing Group. If there’s not an obvious person to join in times of worship, prayer, and relational community – the male/female two-some should meet with a larger group. Either the supervisor participates in the direct-report’s department meetings, or the direct-report joins the supervisor’s meetings. One scenario will emerge as a better fit.

4. Stay on topic. Gender considerations aside, there’s an appropriate level of personal sharing during workplace meetings. The purpose of worship, prayer, and relational community is to seek God together and encourage one another in becoming more Christ-like.  

5. Open door. There are plenty of scenarios where a male and female are in an office discussing work issues. If at all possible, keep the door open or partially ajar. When frequent confidential conversations between a male and female are a given, spend a little money to replace a wooden panel on a door with a sheet of glass.

6. Avoid the appearance of evil. In general, have meetings with three people when possible, observe the open door policy, meet in a public setting with your board chairperson or discuss issues by phone, and establish a personal policy about traveling in a vehicle with a ministry associate of the opposite sex.

God created men and women for many purposes – one of which is to bring varied and valued perspectives into a ministry or church setting. We’re all familiar with the dangers and pitfalls of men and women working together, but observing boundaries provides sufficient safeguards while allowing the fullness of God’s wisdom to come forth for the sake of the ministry.

“When it comes to men and women working together, use wise boundaries and create opportunities to bring forth the fullness of God’s wisdom.”

-Lisa Hosler

How do you foster and safeguard the male/female relationships within your organization? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.

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