Speaking to Men without Directives

Posted on March 18, 2015 by


This is a handy bit of information that I think may bless your relationships with men at church, in your family, at work, and everywhere.

There is a book that has a free download “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. Much of it is about marriage, but there is a preface for singles that could be a great thing to read, and chapter 1 is very helpful for any women, in my view, and it will help you understand God’s basic design for biblical manhood and womanhood in all of our interactions whether we are single or married. The book also has chapters that deal with feminism and helps us understand feminism in the light of Scripture. But, even if you just read Chapter 1, I believe it will be worth your time.

Dynamics between men and women are such that it is often a more palatable situation for a man to lead and a woman to follow. That is even true at church, at work, and in our families, and among our friends. When a woman is in charge, sometimes things can get a bit dicey when a man is to follow her (which is at least part of the reason why certain leadership roles in the church God has designated for men). Not that it is impossible for a female boss to have a good working relationship with a man who reports to her, but there are some things that can make our relationships with men better. Here is a summary of one of the principles in chapter one.


What is a directive? It is a command:

  • Do this.
  • Go there.
  • Don’t do that.
  • You better have this done by X time.
  • Get in here!
  • You need to…
  • You should…
  • You shouldn’t…
  • You have to…

Honestly, I don’t think many women or even older children would appreciate this kind of authoritarian approach, either. I think that we may just want to strike these phrases from most of our conversations – especially with grown adults! We can communicate what we need without ordering people around, thankfully!

A woman can lead a man in a work situation if necessary – even though it may not be an ideal situation – if she focuses on using respectful persuasive language, suggestions, or requests. It is important that if we use these approaches, we do them sincerely and honestly. I’m not saying to lie to a man! And we are not trying to manipulate men. We are respecting men for being men and approaching them in a respectful way (these approaches would probably be better received by women, too):

  • I would really appreciate it if you would please…
  • Would you be able to…?
  • I need to get X done by tomorrow. How do you think we could accomplish this goal?
  • What ideas do you have?
  • I was thinking about this project. I really want to do X with it.
  • Would you please…?
  • I’m not sure I completely understand. Would you please share more of your perspective with me?
  • I need X, please.
  • I’m having a problem with …
  • I could use some help with …
  • It would mean a lot to me if we could…
  • Would you consider…?
  • What if we…?
  • Here are a few of my ideas… what do you think?
  • Would you please take care of X for me? Thank you very much.
  • I really appreciate how you handled Y.
  • Thank you for taking care of that. You really did such a great job!
  • I knew I could count on you.
  • You’re my hero!!! Thank you!
  • I’d like to try…

Some things to avoid:

  • insulting him
  • criticizing his character
  • mothering him (treating him like he is an incompetent little boy)
  • degrading sarcasm
  • a hateful tone of voice, yelling
  • scolding
  • purposely trying to wound him
  • rolling your eyes to imply he is an idiot
  • acting superior to him, being condescending or patronizing
  • gossipping to him or about him

Some ways to bless him:

  • using a gentle approach
  • using a pleasant tone of voice and facial expression whenever appropriate
  • showing appropriate appreciation for his gifts, talents, abilities, and work
  • being friendly (at work it would be in a professionally appropriate way)
  • being generally receptive to considering his ideas and to find the good in his ideas

This same approach is going to be a way that we can respectfully express our needs, desires, and thoughts with men (and even with women) in our lives in many situations. It is fine for us to share our needs, desires, and ideas. But we can share them in a uniquely feminine way that honors our own femininity and that honors the manhood of the men around us in ways that are appropriate for different relationships we have with different men.


Something to prayerfully consider:

How might these same kinds of things apply in our relationship to God?

Is it appropriate for us to give God directives?

Is it appropriate for us to approach God in a disrespectful way?