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:
- 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.
- 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!