Tag Archives: Ministry

The Power of “and”…

10 years ago, I was working in San Diego building the Rock Church.   I worked with an interior designer on the project and she taught me a valuable lesson.

Her name was Robin Wilson Carrier and she would always listen to my suggestions about what we should or should not do on the project with regard to design.   I would often have this great idea and I would be excited to tell her all about it hoping to convince her to incorporate my idea into her design.   She would just sit there and listen to me smiling and when I would finish talking, she would nod and say, “and… we might also think of…,” then she would go on to share her much better (and professionally trained) idea…and at the end of the conversation…I felt heard and I felt good about her decision.

The key thing I learned was the power of the word “and.”

So what is so great about that three letter word?   When I was a kid, I would spend my Saturday mornings watching, “Schoolhouse Rock.” From that show, I learned that the words “and, but and or” are conjunctions.   Remember, “Conjunction junction what’s your function?  Hooking up words and phrases and clauses…” anyway…

The use of these three conjunctions are very similar, but the effect they have on others…can be quite different.

For instance, when we use the conjunction “but” connecting two thoughts, we are many times negating the first thought by introducing the second thought.  It’s like we are saying “you’re wrong and I’m right.”  We hear it all the time on TV news programs as the talking heads on the TV scream and yell at each other trying to make their point.   

Similarly, when we use the conjunction “or”, we are usually offering a choice. These choices generally take us in opposite directions.  Up or down, good or bad, chicken or fish.  Either this or that.  What we are implying is that neither choice is necessarily bad… just different.

Then, there is the “and” conjunction.  I think it is the “feel good conjunction.”   It “validates” the first thought as being important, yet offers more…an additional thought!   Using “and” makes people feel better.   It is a “unifier” and I believe if we consciously used “and” in situations where we typically use “but”…we would all be a lot better off.

So why do I think about these things…?

Well, I have struggled for several years with the ultimate direction of my professional life.  I spent 30 years in the Construction industry and I thought I was good at it.   However, as the years wore on, I felt like I lacked a sense of purpose for my efforts and I blamed that feeling on the industry.  Project after project would come and go and I never felt any connection to the “why” I was doing it.   

About this time, I began to go on mission trips and serving people in other countries.   It gave me everything I was looking for!   It gave me purpose and filled that huge void that the construction industry could not.  

So I struggled for years wrestling with two primary beliefs:

  1. I loved the personal satisfaction that missions gave me, but in order to have that, I would have to give up making money and totally rely on God to meet my financial needs.
  2. I was to follow God and serve people in missions or work in the secular world with a normal job.

I never thought about using “and” until recently…

After returning from almost two years serving in Guatemala, I moved to Jacksonville, FL for a short time.  While I was there, I was constantly searching for what God wanted me to do.  What was my next step?  Ministry or Construction?  Ministry or Start a Business?

One day, I attended a C12 meeting and the answer to that question became clear.   The C12 organization is comprised of CEO’s within the community that are Christians and run their businesses using Christian based values.   It was during this day-long meeting that I got to speak with, and listen to Christian leaders that identified their businesses as their ministries.   They did so not in an overt or heavy-handed way but simply living out what they believed.   What a concept!   Ministry was their business and their business was their ministry!   I got it!

Fast forward to now…

Now, I am back in the construction industry building projects and… lovin’ on people as I was able to do in Guatemala and Africa.   I see ministry opportunities in my workplace everywhere! I see chances to encourage people and to help people each day and that new perspective has allowed me “live on mission” and earn a living doing what I’m skilled at doing.

My workplace is my ministry.  God didn’t make me give up anything…He added to…!  

I have learned…and am finally living… the power of “and.”  

Thank you, Robin!

 

I get it…finally…

Today we started another round of stove building for many of the families here in Las Anonas, Guatemala.  Today, we started Berta Victor’s stove.  She has two children, Oscar and Jacqueline.  They are about 8 and 6 years old respectively if I were to guess.  She lives in a home of corrugated metal scraps, a dirt floor, outdoor bathroom, limited electricity all of which are pretty normal here.

Here is the photo of her “before” kitchen photo.

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I love doing this for many reasons.  First of all, it allows me to stay for an extended period in their home.  This allows me to get to know them and vice versa.   I get to know their children, and they quickly become my friends, my helpers and my shadow!

Also, I love working with Don Juan.  We still have a large language gap between us, but we still manage just fine as we make jokes, laugh and learn from each other.   I also love watching how the women go about their day.   Not to sound “creepy” or anything, I learn so much by observing how difficult it is for them to live.   They leave each morning with their small children and a machete and they trek off into the woods to cut the days supply of firewood.  Then they return home and begin to prepare meals.   This usually involves starting a fire and boiling beans.   Then comes time to do dishes and or laundry.  It’s done outside using a concrete scrub board (pila), and they scrub!   The water runs out on the ground, where the chickens or the ducks enjoy the refreshment.

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Today, I loved showing Don Juan many of the new tools that we were able to get by many generous donations.  He was overjoyed!   No more tape measures we can’t read, squares that aren’t square or levels that aren’t level.   But I think the best thing was a headlamp that I bought him.   We often work in very dark places and Don Juan honestly, just can’t see!   I often had to use my phone and just hold it while he worked.   But today, was different.  After I had shown him how to use the headlamp, I demonstrated how he could adjust the light to shine of exactly where he was working, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him happier!

The other thing I loved about today were the kids.   Oscar and Jacqueline were my constant companions.   Jacqueline made fun of me most of the day because of my Spanish.   I know I use the wrong tenses, I don’t conjugate my verbs correctly, and I probably sound to her like an infant…but that’s ok because she laughs at me!

Oscar, on the other hand, was seriously into what we were doing.  He worked as hard as we did by cleaning tools, stacking, soaking bricks and just watching every move we made.  At one point I was cutting bricks with a grinder, and he was so close to me our heads were touching.   I had my safety glasses on, and I gave a pair to Oscar to wear as well.   He loved it.   After each brick I would cut, he would grab the scrap and take it inside his house.

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However, the best part of today was at the end of the workday.   We had mixed a little more concrete than we needed, so Don Juan told me to use it to fill a small dip in the dirt that led into their new cooking area.   So, I prepared the concrete, dumped it and before I could do anything else, little Oscar had grabbed a concrete hand float and was troweling the concrete to a beautiful finish!  I was amazed and incredibly proud of him at the same time.

But I was also humbled…

Oscar demonstrated to me what the essence of this stove building ministry SHOULD be about.   It shouldn’t be about Bob getting to know and experience the daily life of Guatemalans.  It should be about providing opportunities for Guatemalans to better their life!   That could come in many forms.  It could come from:

  1.  Providing a stove that eliminates smoke as they cook.
  2. Providing a way to burn the wood they collect 66% more efficiently.
  3. Providing jobs for masons, like Don Juan.
  4. Providing training, hope and igniting the flame of future possibilities in young men like little Oscar.

This ministry is not about Bob.   It’s about Bob teeing up an opportunity, getting the right people in place and then getting out of the way.  That’s the model that will work…

I get it…finally…