Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Femininity on the Job

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Leslie Basham: How can someone display humble, Christ-like character while working in a highly competitive business environment? Listen as this single woman expresses her dilemma.

 

Jennifer: I don't have a man who is taking care of me, and I need to be the breadwinner in my family. I need to be focused on taking care of myself and I have to stand up for myself and I have to get in the trenches.

 

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, June 11th. We're in a series called, "Seven Secrets for Singles."

 

Yesterday, Nancy taught single women the importance of maintaining femininity and developing a gentle and quiet spirit. Can a woman do that in a competitive, working environment? We'll hear from Nancy in just a minute, but we're starting with a question from one of the young ladies who heard yesterday's program with us.

 

Jennifer: I have noticed that the more I pursue God that the more it affects my relationship with other people in every aspect, not just church and not just with my close friends but also at work. However I do work in an atmosphere that is very aggressive and very competitive. And it brings out that spirit in you if you want to succeed and you want to do well among these other people.

I have been able to keep it, kind of, at bay. But I've also sacrificed a certain level of respect that some of these people or peers have for me and have been taken advantage of in so many instances. I don't want them to look at me and see someone who is Christ-like in a way they perceive as weak.

I want to be an appropriate, strong example, in my witness, of that. And I'm not exactly sure that I'm doing that yet. Does that make sense?

 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think it does. I can't, is it Jennifer?

 

Jennifer: Yes.

 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I can't see your nametag there. Okay. Jennifer, there's a passage in Scripture that comes to mind as I hear you, and it's in the Book of Daniel. It's not talking about women, but I think there's an application here.

The thing you had to do in Babylon in Daniel's day to succeed was to go on the King's program. That affected what you ate and the training system. And you had to go through this whole program in order to rise to the top in his empire.

But there were some Hebrew young men who were under a different lordship and their ultimate allegiance was to God. And they determined in their hearts that they would not defile themselves.

One of those young men was Daniel. He purposed in his heart that he would not violate his conscience and his relationship with his God in order to succeed in the eyes of the world or in that kingdom. But he did it graciously. He made an appeal to the authorities, and he got wisdom from God as to how to live out that commitment.

In his case, as he lived out his convictions, God gave him favor. And he came to be respected, came to be at the top of the heap. "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth," (Matthew 5:5). So sometimes when you obey God, God will just honor and smile on your obedience even though it's not fitting in the world system, and He will bless and honor that and give you favor in the eyes of the world.

Not always. Sometimes, you'll have to suffer for doing right. Sometimes you'll lose the favor of this world system, and ultimately, you'll have to decide, "Whose favor really matters to me?" Then, if that costs me reputation or advancement in the world's eyes, so be it. So be it.

 

Jennifer: I want to also take care of myself. I don't have a man who is taking care of me, but I need to be the breadwinner in my family. I have to be focused on taking care of myself and I have to stand up for myself and I have to get in the trenches. Does that make sense?

 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It does, but let me challenge you with this thought. Whether you're a single woman who's a breadwinner or a married man who's a breadwinner, ultimately, your trust has to be in God because ultimately your security is not in your job; it's not in your paycheck. Ultimately, if you're a child of God, your security is in God.

Listen, a married man who has all the things you just said you don't have, he can lose his job. And whom is he going to depend on then? You see, it's not just single women who live with these fears.

You have to trust that God as your provider. Now, that doesn't mean you just go to sleep and say, "God will pay my bills." It means you seek the Lord and you say, "Where am I supposed to work? What am I supposed to do?" and then you be faithful in fulfilling what you believe God has given you to do. But you don't walk in fear.

 

Second Speaker: I think what Jennifer's trying, I know Jennifer--she's a friend of mine--and her job is very competitive, and you have to be aggressive in her area of work. And so the question is how can she cultivate femininity in a position where she's required to be an aggressive person or else not succeed? So how can you do well in your job and maintain your femininity is basically the question?

 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I'm in a position--I feel like I relate a little bit to what some of you are sharing--in a little different way, but I'm in a ministry setting, working as a woman in what is largely a men's world, so having to be conscious and careful of the fact that I'm not one of the guys. And I don't want to be one of the guys.

I want to be distinctively feminine, and yet I'm in a leadership position, with leadership responsibilities and having to make decisions and some big decisions that affect my part of the ministry. And sometimes men are affected by those decisions, but I think I can do that. I'm learning to do that in ways that are different than the men, in ways that affirm them as men, that show appropriate respect and honor; and in ways that let me express my femininity.

So I'm making a prayerful decision. I'm trying to make wise decisions. I want to do what I do as competently as God will give me grace to do it, but I think I can still do it in ways that are feminine.

That doesn't mean stupid. That means being as capable as God has made you to be and as you possibly can be, but in ways that respect them as men and in ways that are gentle. That doesn't mean weak. It really just means strength under the control of God's spirit.

I'm learning, for example, not to make dogmatic, bottom-line statements but ask questions. And sometimes I find that I can lead more effectively by asking questions. There's a greater sense in which I feel I express my femininity when I bring ideas to the table in a way that I'm not suggesting that this is necessarily the best or the only or the final idea.

Now, I'm not suggesting that it's okay for men to be arrogant. But I do think sometimes I can say something in the same words that a man said it, but it creates more walls and barriers than if the man had said it. And, till you're blue in the face, you can tell me that's because men are chauvinists. I don't believe that. I think there's a God-created instinctive difference between men and women that even non-Christian, non-believing men and women have some sense of.

Let me share with you an illustration. Jennifer, it doesn't quite relate to your workplace situation; but it may relate to others in other relationships.

I was in a meeting years ago, and I was working with three men. Three men were in the meeting and myself. Two of the men I'd worked with a long time. We knew each other's hearts and had a chemistry and a style of working together. And there was a lot of freedom for give and take, and iron sharpening iron. They knew me and I knew them, and I knew they were comfortable with that. I wasn't in any way threatening their sense of manliness.

I mean, there's still appropriate and inappropriate ways; but I knew I could really jump in there and be a part of that intense interaction without in any way belittling or threatening them.

There was another man in that meeting who was new to the group. I didn't really know him, and he didn't really know me. And afterwards, he pulled me aside and said--now, I'm sure these weren't his words but so help me, this is the way I remember it--he said, "I just want you to know, I can't handle you." And I'm talking, these are, we're all Christians here. This is a ministry setting. He was not ugly. Now, I know it sounds ugly, but he really wasn't. He just, he didn't really know me. He didn't know my heart. We didn't have the working relationship.

I didn't know his wife at the time. I got to know her. She was one of the quietest women I have ever met. That's the kind of woman that he loved and was drawn to. I mean, that's who he married. And I, once I met her, I realized I threw this guy's equilibrium way off.

Now, my instinct, my flesh, just kind of in-gut response in that situation--not out loud but inside--would probably have been, and I can't tell you, I can't remember honestly, but knowing me--I'm sure my instinctive reaction was, "Get a life!" I mean, I didn't do anything wrong.

I'm glad I didn't say that. And I don't know, again, what words I said; but this was my response and I can only credit God's grace with this: the pathway of humility in this situation is to defer. This is where he is as a man. He's not trying to put me down.

I think if you have a chip on your shoulder, you're going to take offense really easily. And I don't think that's mature. I don't think it's womanly. I don't think it's spiritual to have, you know, walk around, "Everybody's chauvinistic; everybody's trying to put me down as a woman." I think sometimes, as singles, we do that. "Everybody's got it in for singles and nobody really treats us like real people." That's immature behavior.

The mature thing to do, and I think the spiritual thing at that point was to say, "If I love this brother in Christ, then I will be willing to modify my approach when I'm working with him in order to accomplish the greater good, which is not creating an offense and working together as a team to serve the Lord."

So I backed way off, not out of fear, not out of cowering, just because I felt it was the right thing to do. It's humble. It's womanly, and you know what happened in time as he got to know me and got to know my heart? If we were to have--he's actually gone home to be with the Lord, but we got to know each other and appreciate each other. And the time came when he could have been in that meeting and we could have had exactly the same conversation and he could have been fine.

 

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been offering some practical advice to single women trying to display a feminine spirit in a competitive work environment. Today's program wraps up a series called, "Seven Secrets for Singles." And as today's program indicates, we've spent a lot of time applying the Scripture to the practical issues that single women face.

If you know someone who would benefit from hearing these programs, why don't you order a copy? This series comes on two cassettes for a suggested donation of $8 or two CDs for $10. When you order, you'll get some additional comments from Nancy that we weren't able to fit into the radio programs.

For more information, you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. 

What have you learned about singleness during our series? We'd love to hear from you. You can send your letter to Revive Our Hearts.

Tomorrow, we'll hear a special message from a daughter to her dad. We hope you can be here for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

 

 

 

 

 

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