Editor’s Corner: Which ‘we’?

Amy Forbus

Amy Forbus

By Amy Forbus

I don’t think I’m alone in sometimes using the word “we” in place of “I.” Perhaps I do so because it’s easier for me to absorb change or criticism when I can convince myself I’m not the only one involved.

But in addition to talking about myself with “we,” I can think of plenty of times when my “we” actually means “you.” At work, for example:

“When we do this again next year, can we make sure we have bandwidth dedicated to this particular team of people?” (Though I may be part of the Arkansas Conference’s Center for Technology team, I’m the last person you should look to for a robust wireless network. That request is definitely a “you” or “y’all” thinly disguised as “we.”)

And at church:

“We need to make sure we’re following the procedures we set up.” (Yeah, what that means is that I have very little idea of how something works, but I sure hope someone else does.)

And of course, at home:

Asking “Should we feed the dogs their supper now?” from the living room while my husband is in the kitchen comes across as, “You’re close to the food bin; feed the dogs, will you?” When I’m occupied with another task, it’s best to avoid choosing words that imply I’m planning to help him.

What, then, is a better use of “we”?

John and I tend to take a team approach to a number of tasks. In addition to being efficient, it tends to make life more fun.

If we (there’s that word!) work together to cook a dish for a potluck or dinner party, and someone asks, “Did you make this?” it’s a pleasure to be able to answer that we did it as a team. In fact, “We make a great team” has been one of my favorite things to say and hear over the 20 years we’ve been married.

With a true cooperative effort, “we” makes all the difference in the world. When you stick with another person or team until something comes to fruition—whether that’s a home-cooked meal, a ministry effort, a piece of music or an inning-ending double play. When you realize that whatever it is you’re doing, you couldn’t have done it without another person—or without leaning on Christ.

A similar thing happens each June behind the scenes of Annual Conference. Working among the vast “we” of the volunteers, staff, production and planning teams makes it obvious to me that some things—probably most things—simply are not meant to be done alone.

I’m thankful for the ministry of “we” the United Methodists of Arkansas, and for the knowledge that through us, the ultimate “we” of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit works within it all, too.

To reach me, send an email to aforbus@arumc.org.