“In order to build a bridge, I must have anchors in both sides of the canyon.”
Over the past two weeks (part 1, part 2), we have been talking about building bridges, though not necessarily literal bridges, but relational bridges. The first week we discussed how to be firmly grounded in our side of the canyon we are on, and last week we discussed how we must cross the canyon and begin to set the anchor of relationships over on the far side of the canyon. With these two anchors firmly fastened into the cliffs on each side of the canyon, now comes the part where we build the connection between both sides.
This is probably the hardest and most delicate task in the entire bridge-building process.
Connecting Both Anchors — Laying a Path
The last step when building bridges is laying the path between both anchors. If you think this will be easy, think again. Having left one side of the canyon to go to the other, you have grown as a person more than some of those who stayed behind. Having formed relationships with the people on the far side of the canyon, you now must deal with helping them cross the bridge.
Truth be told, you will have challenges, and more often than not, these challenges will come from those who hold the largest quivers of arrows. Having spent time with the people on the far side of the canyon, and now that you are leading some across, those who have been shooting arrows might start aiming at you and the group you are leading across. This is when it is most critical that you make the right decision about how to react.
Chances are that you can see and relate with both sides of the big difference that caused the canyon. Being firmly anchored in the original side of the canyon makes you able to empathize with those who don’t understand, but remember that the anchor on the far side of the canyon is built with relationships, understanding, and “love”. The only choice that matters when leading people over the newly formed bridge is siding with (and defending) those who you are leading across from those who are too busy shooting arrows to know what damage they are doing.
Another place of opposition to be on the lookout for is people who claim that the bridge you are building is either too long or too short. They say that you are either going too far in where you are leading people to, or you are stopping short of where they thing your bridge should go. Remember, this is your bridge, and if people have a problem with your bridge, they can build their own. However, for them, it is simply easier to aim arrows at you for not building their bridge than actually build the bridge themselves. Don’t worry much about these people, because how you treat and respond to them says more about you to those you are leading across than it does about the opposition themselves.
Bridge Building Modeled
A group of religious leaders brought a woman who was just caught in the act of adultery before Jesus and asked what should be done. Jesus, who was completely comfortable with the tension of the situation, responded with a simple statement, “Let the person who has never sinned, cast the first stone.” Jesus, being completely truthful, defended the woman from her accusers. He was leading her across the bridge, and the religious leaders didn’t like it. After everyone had left and Jesus was alone with her, He chose to not condemn her either, but challenged her to “go and sin no more.”
Jesus is our example. Jesus is the destination for where our bridges should lead. Jesus is the reason we decide to build bridges in the first place.
Next week is a special week for this newsletter. We will have reached a milestone, and to celebrate. I have an exciting announcement. I also want to share some thoughts and plans for 2013 with you, and how I will be implementing bridge-building in my own ministry.
As we close this newsletter, what are some of the ways you can see yourself “bridge-building” like Jesus?