How to Engineer Common Grace

TGCvocations with Josué Rodríguez

Josué Rodríguez is a civil engineer. He was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Josué and his wife, Luz, are members of Iglesia Gracia Soberana, and live in Maryland with their two children.

How would you describe your work?

I’m a civil engineer. I work for a company that designs buildings, highways, bridges, airports, and their associated infrastructures. My particular focus is water resources and storm water management, which means I lead teams in designing projects that control the amount and quality of water that will end up in the river.

As an image-bearer of God, how does your work reflect some aspect of God’s work?

An engineer is someone who comes up with creative solutions. I design processes to bring order and solve problems, like avoiding flooding issues in—or because of—new developments, and helping the client comply with environmental protection regulations. I create things that weren’t there before, but I use materials that were already there, created by God. Still, this aspect of my humanity reflects God’s image and work—how he made everything and brought order into a world that was without form and void.

How does your work give you a unique vantage point into the brokenness of the world?

In my role as a project manager, I’m responsible for leading a group of engineers and other workers toward a common goal. This is probably the hardest part of my job—managing several qualified professionals who have strong convictions about how things should be done. Pride surfaces often, and it leads to conflict. It also leads some to disregard valuable insights from those who don’t have engineering degrees, even if they’re knowledgeable and experienced. I have to navigate these difficult waters and help the team move forward.

Also, the company exists to make a profit. Much of that pressure falls on me as a project manager. One can easily be tempted to lie, cut corners, and take credit for someone else’s achievements. These things remind me sin isn’t only out there, but also in here.

Jesus commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” How does your work function as an opportunity to love and serve others?

Just a few weeks ago, two engineers on my team had a sharp disagreement. The younger one felt his expectations hadn’t been met; the more seasoned one felt disrespected. As their manager I stepped in, talked to both of them, and helped them work through the situation—successfully, it seems, since they went on a field project together two weeks later. Facilitating conflict resolution and teaming up is one of the ways I get to serve the people around me. By God’s grace, the manner in which I’ve handled some of these issues has also led some unbelieving bosses, coworkers, and clients to ask what’s different about me.

More broadly, I believe helping design buildings, schools, bridges, and so on is a way I get to participate in God’s common grace to the world. Engineers like me have the privilege of serving others by creating infrastructure—designing spaces that work well, care for the environment, keep people safe, and allow them to thrive in their occupations.

Editors’ noteTGCvocations is a weekly column that asks practitioners how they integrate their faith and their work. Interviews are condensed and edited.