Maybe you’ve been in this situation. You’re sitting in a meeting and someone throws out a wild, crazy idea. Your brain immediately begins poking holes in said idea, scrolling through all of the reasons it’s likely doomed to failure. If you’re like me — an introvert — you may not actually voice your concerns. You figure as everyone talks, someone else will shoot it down.
But every once in a while, something magical happens. Someone else in the group says, “Yes, and …” and goes on to suggest how to make the first person’s idea work.
I performed as part of an improv comedy troupe for seven years. One of the first things you learn in improv is the concept of “yes, and.” The basic idea is that a performer should accept what his fellow performer has stated — “Yes” — and then expand on that idea — “and.” I have also become aware over the years that a “yes, and” attitude can be a great asset in the work place.
But let’s talk about the Church for a minute — all of us who believe in Jesus’ saving work on the cross and have chosen Him as Lord. I think Christians can be particularly prone to saying “no.” As I recently heard a pastor say, “Some people just seem to have the spiritual gift of dissension.”
Of course if we love Jesus, we’re going to be passionate about things pertaining to our faith. And that’s great. But our zeal can also cause us to be close-minded and shut down creativity and collaboration. To clarify, I’m not talking about entertaining false teaching or giving up Christian distinctives. I’m talking about greater cooperation between those who are holding fast to truth together. With that in mind, here are three ways to exercise “yes, and” with fellow Christians:
- Listen. Go back to me sitting in that meeting. What if, instead of shutting down a “crazy” idea in my brain, I simply continued to hear the person out? I might hear something brilliant I would have missed. If it’s truly a bad idea, the person speaking may figure that out as he goes. By truly listening, instead of editing, I may discover a gem that I would have missed with a “no.”
- Accept. I’ve recently realized that I’m pretty bad at this. Because, as a Christian, I am called to “reject” things, such as false teaching and worldliness, I can find that I’m on the defensive and slow to accept anything. I recently came across Romans 14:1, which says, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” NIV translates “welcome” as “accept.” What? We don’t have to show him he’s wrong? We just have to make him feel welcome? That attitude can revolutionize how you relate with others — and how they feel about you.
- Add. Nothing is more affirming than to have someone jump in on your idea with excitement. This is the “and” part of “yes, and.” Instead of minimizing someone else’s suggestion — or worse, spouting off your own “better” idea — dare to linger on what they’re proposing. I suspect that many of the best ideas are offshoots of someone’s “crazy idea.” Not to mention, many wildly successful ventures, including Starbucks, eBay and Crocs, began as a crazy idea that no one thought would hold water. So instead of pushing back on an idea you’re not crazy about, try thinking it through to its logical end. If it’s a bad idea, that fact will likely reveal itself in due time.
Listening, accepting and adding are actions that create good comedy. They’re also qualities that can revolutionize the way you interact with your Christian brothers and sisters. Go ahead; give “yes, and” a try and see what crazy ideas you come up with.