PWYW

There’s a route I take occasionally. It’s one of the ways I can go to my in-laws. It’s the route I sometimes take to do parties. And, it’s been under construction for about a year now. They’re replacing a bridge. At each end of the bridge there’s a stoplight. It’s a long stoplight.

If you look at the utility pole to your right while you’re waiting at the stoplight you’ll see a sign that reads, “PWYW.” That’s all it says. It’s printed on something durable, since it’s survived months and months of weather. There are no identifying marks whatsoever.

Sitting there one day waiting for the light to change my husband told me the story of PWYW. It’s an evangelistic tool placed there by a local church. I applaud their efforts, but I doubt it has the effect they desire. I would imagine they got the idea from the WWJD bracelets that were popular when my son was young. When someone would ask about the bracelet the wearer would explain that it’s a reminder to ask yourself “What Would Jesus Do?” when you have a decision to make. The problem with PWYW is that there’s no one there to explain what it means.

Have you figured it out yet? You’ve seen it a few times by now. I had seen it dozens of times before my husband explained it. It’s a reminder to “Pray While You Wait.” It’s a good message. But, if the recipient doesn’t understand it, it’s a failed message.

This got me to thinking in two different directions in which communication is key. The first is evangelism. If I’m going to share my faith I need to make sure that what I’m saying is very clear to the person I’m talking to. Otherwise, I might as well be speaking a different language.

The second is business. If I’m not making myself clear to my customers, whether I’m talking about hosting parties, buying products, or joining my team, I might as well not say anything at all. Actually, it’s probably worse than that. I could be running them off.

So, while things like PWYW might be cute, if everyone isn’t in on it, it’s just a confusing bunch of letters.

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