How to Be a Bridge Builder

Have you recently attempted to bring a different perspective into a conversation, and been angrily shut down or even lost a friendship with someone for simply asking why they believed something?

We are living in a sad time when relationships are considered less important than making sure that the other person thinks exactly the same way you do.

Bridge Burners are people who stop talking to a friend in real life or block them on social media for having different opinions, usually without doing any actual research into the other side of the issue.

But you can be Bridge Builder and help bring people together.

Bridge Builders are willing to have a mature discussion about both sides of an issue, without name-calling, or assuming the other person is an idiot.

Oftentimes bridge builders have more moderate opinions as opposed to extreme opinions. They can sometimes bring new information to the table that the extremist has not heard or considered. Instead of choosing a ‘team’ and defending it to the death, bridge builders tend to be more independent and willing to listen. Many situations could be resolved if people were more willing to hear the other person’s point of view.

In many cases, there is a third group, sometimes a silent group, that has a vested interest in keeping two groups of people divided and fighting. That definitely applies to Satan. By keeping people divided, fewer people will be able to hear the gospel and follow Jesus!

Some issues will not be resolved because they are questions of what is right and wrong. But even then, showing love and being a peacemaker can open the other person’s mind to considering that they ‘could’ be wrong. If nothing else, God will be glorified when they see your good behavior.

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14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

https://biblia.com/books/esv/Ro12.14

How to be a Bridge Builder

PREPARE BEFORE YOU APPROACH SOMEONE:

Pray and ask God if you should approach this person.

Pray for God to give you the right heart and words.

Stay humble and remember that this is bridge building, not burning.

Think about what you know about both sides of this issue.

Even though you want to hear their thoughts , it can be helpful to research the other perspective, especially if it’s a very divided topic.

Remember that no matter how you approach someone, some people will get defensive.

HOW YOU TALK MATTERS:

Use words and body language and facial expressions to indicate that you are not trying to fight with them.

Use peaceful words not aggressive words. For example, “I know we have different opinions on this subject, but I really care about our friendship. I really want to understand your viewpoint.”

Pick the right time to talk, not when you or they are in a rush or doing other things or when other people might intervene.

Listen carefully when they talk and try to put yourself in their shoes.

In person discussion is best, but a phone conversation can work, too.

If possible, go for a walk while you talk! Walking not only helps you think , but being side by side promotes a feeling of trust and friendship.

Texting is not a good way to talk about important issues because you can’t see the other person’s reactions to your words.

If you feel very emotional about the topic, you probably may not be ready to build a bridge.

BE WILLING TO ACCEPT THE OUTCOME

If you have already had arguments about this topic, ask the person if they are willing to have a discussion.

Tell them you care about your relationship and don’t want this topic to come between you.

Go into the conversation knowing whether you are willing to change your beliefs or not.

If you are planning to agree to disagree, ask yourself if having a conversation will be helpful or not.

Sometimes a conversation is less important than simply showing the person that you still care about them.

Tell them you care about your relationship and don’t want this topic to come between you.

Building a bridge does not mean trying to force the other person to change their mind.

Depending on the issue, share specific facts and information that you think might help.

If you are a Christian and they aren’t, don’t use Bible verses as your argument unless you think they are open to that.

KNOW WHEN TO END THE TALK

If they are still unconvinced, or they seem to be getting more angry, let it go.

End the conversation on a positive note.

Do not hold resentment in your heart if they aren’t willing to change.

Pray for them. Ask God if you are wrong.

Give it time.

Just the fact that you want to build a bridge is a good thing! But don’t rush into it unless there is good reason. Remember that they have reasons for their beliefs just like you do. Their reasons could actually change YOUR mind.

Do be careful that you don’t let someone talk you into believing something untrue or immoral just because you want to keep the peace. There is such a thing as right and wrong.

Use your Bible as your guide! And always pray for the other person to come to the knowledge of the truth. Their salvation through Jesus is more important than making them agree with you on every issue.

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