Thursday, February 04, 2010

Do I Really Have to Ask for Directions?

Men have problems asking for help. Well, that will come as no surprise to most of us! In an interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, columnist Amy Dickinson of the Chicago Tribune shared a story about a group of men who found a way around that problem.

Dickinson told about a group of men who found themselves without jobs in the current economic downturn. They started meeting once a week for coffee, then three times a week, and finally set up their own office where they could meet daily. The purpose of the arrangement was a bit unclear at first, but it became a way to encourage each other in seeking work, consulting jobs, and other professional development. According to Dickinson, the key was that they saw it as a professional relationship.

Evidently, the group needed each other but they also required an excuse other than it being a social gathering! The columnist also noted that women can get through personal or professional crises better than men because they value relationships and usually already have a support network developed when crisis comes. Men, on the other hand, want to appear self-sufficient and must justify their need for others.

Ministers—especially male clergy--often have problems developing supportive relationships. There are any number of excuses—lack of time, fear of self-disclosure, not wanting to “play favorites” or a feeling of invulnerability. Because of this, every minister needs to be part of some type of peer or support group. Such groups provide opportunity for encouragement and accountability. These can be safe places to work through concerns and to provide support for others. Such groups do not develop overnight, but they are well worth the time and effort involved. The result is a healthy self-awareness and the discovery that one is not alone.

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