A few bridges in my life have sustained damaging blows in the last few years through disappointments in relationships, groups, and ministries. I allowed a lack of trust to ruin and collapse some bridges, while a sea of regret washed them away. Or maybe the sea was one of forgetfulness… either way, the bridges are no longer there. Other bridges I’m in the process of painstakingly rebuilding, one piece at a time. Then there are the bridges I ignore. They wait for my attention while I deny there is anything wrong, or just knowingly look the other way.
The lost bridges, although no longer visible, are still remembered in my heart as I hide behind the wall of bricks I built with their remains. When a new situation or relationship presents itself to me, I want to walk away, avoiding building a bridge only to fall to ruin again. I stand in that place today. In a moment of divine inspiration I wrote about MENTORING. That was followed by a moment of CONVICTION as I decided to practice what I preach. Now I am here – dwelling on the lost bridges (failed mentoring relationships) and nervous about a new opportunity of entering into a mentor/mentoree relationship. I just want to hide behind my walls. I know I am called to build bridges, and that is what I will do, but first I want to look at my walls a little closer.
(**Note: As you read this, just omit the word Mentor and it is applicable to any new relationship!**)
I want to stay away from mentoring relationships that:
- don’t encourage change or growth.
- focus on a leader (one person in a relationship) who make it all about them, even if it’s in a sense of humility. That person might say, “You shouldn’t make it all about me!” – but we all know it is.
- don’t disciple so others can lead when they are ready. (Great Commission)
- don’t preach the Bible. Period. (just RUN from this one!)
- water down scripture with other theologians or pop psychology.
- leaves or quits.
I want a mentoring relationship that:
- encourages change and growth.
- focuses on Jesus as a leader. The mentor loves as Christ does and seeks Him above all things.
- disciples, so mentorees can lead when they are ready. (Great Commission)
- relies on the Bible. Period.
- lacks judgement but abounds in love.
- stays with you through thick and thin.
Writing this list helped me to look at my walls (and fears) a little closer. Analyzing each item, it feels like I’m picking up pieces of my wall and throwing it into the sea of forgetfulness instead of the sea of regret. Mentoring relationships are not perfect, and will not be, unless you are sitting with Jesus in the flesh. Knowing that, I can choose to harbor resentment and close the door to relationships, or I can choose to walk with someone in a relationship anyway. When the not-quite-like-Christ times come, we can journey through those together – learning along the way.
Building Bridges sometimes means tearing down the walls first.