A few weeks ago I spoke at a conference that required me to fly. Months before the conference, I asked the organizers if I could have a guy drive me to the airport. Not that a girl driving me was a big deal, but my wife and I had discussed it and we both felt better about me avoiding awkward situations like that. Three of my favorite pastors, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel and Billy Graham, live by that policy and I felt fine with putting it in my life too.
I know what you’re thinking, “Hey, you’ve got a book coming out, don’t you have an entourage with one really big guy who everyone calls ‘Tiny’ and another guy who can always talk his way out of a jam and possibly a really tall guy who can reach things on shelves that you can’t? Aren’t you rich?” Yes, I mean globally speaking I am rich in that when I went to pick out shoes to wear today it was a multiple choice test. But I don’t have an entourage, which is a request that Zondervan continues to ignore. When I travel it’s just me and my backpack. No luggage, no baggage, just a seemingly bottomless LL Bean backpack which makes me feel a bit like Dora the Explorer.
So without an entourage, I decided to request that a guy drive me to the airport. I just wasn’t comfortable with the idea of spending an hour in LA traffic alone with a girl. That just didn’t seem smart to me and the conference was completely cool with that request. They found a guy, everything was good.
That felt like a no brainer to me. I had a chance to honor a commitment I made to my wife, so I did. And at the conference, one of the female staff made a point of thanking me for making that request, so I felt good that I had not disrespected anyone by asking for a male driver. But what about other less obvious situations? When you get married, you’re suddenly thrown into all these awkward opposite sex friendship moments.
What about having a one on one meeting with a woman? Is it enough to just leave the door open? Or do you have to have three people present at all times? I know churches who use both approaches.
What about a lunch meeting? A married friend recently told me that if he couldn’t go out to lunch with females he couldn’t do his job. Is lunch with a lady a date? What if it’s a business lunch? The CEO of Zondervan is a lady, what if she calls me and says, “Jon, we’d like to give you a 37 book deal and your own Honda Ruckus Scooter for a cross country tour called ‘Ruckus by Ruckus,’ can we go out to lunch to discuss the details?” Do I have to invite someone along with me? What if my wife is not available that day?
And when you get married, at what point do you have to officially retire the silly sentence, “I’ve just always gotten along better with the opposite sex, that’s how I’m wired?”
I don’t know. I don’t have the answer on this one. Just the idea that things get a little awkward when you get married and have to figure out friendships with the opposite sex. But of the two camps, “Jeez you’re such a Puritan, loosen up” and “Better safe than sorry, can a dude drive me to the airport,” I know which one I want to fall into. Because no one ever wakes up and says, “Today I’m having an affair.” Affairs are slow burn decisions, with a wick a mile long made of little steps and little compromises.
Are you single?
Did your married friends of the opposite sex dump you the second they got hitched?
Are you married? What’s your approach? What are your boundaries?