Monday, September 24, 2012

A look at the Leadership Corps. Pt 4 - 3 Reasons to Build Relationships

No man is an island. But in some ways, I see people like castles, situated high on top of mountain peaks. We can be hard to approach. We have layers, walls, and secret passages. We can be a source of strength and security, opening the gates of our courtyards to welcome friendship, alliance, and trust. We can also barricade ourselves in, trying to lock out the world.

If people can be likened to castles, maybe relationships are like bridges between our castles, transmitting communication, emotion, and energy – the supplies that sustain us. Just like bridges, relationships must be built.

I don’t know about you, but until recently I didn’t think in terms of “building relationships.” They sort of just happened.  But being a counselor changed my perspective, and asked me to actively work on building relationships, because that’s why I was there. Building relationships with the iGovern students was the highest priority, for several powerful reasons:

1)    To Show God’s Love

Reaching out isn’t always easy. Often we prefer that someone else put forward the effort to initiate a conversation, start building the bridge.  We feel most comfortable and in control when someone knocks on the gate of our own castle. It takes sacrifice, energy, and risk to approach an unfamiliar castle… especially when there’s no promise of getting anything in return.

This is what Christ did for us, though. He built the bridge for us, to restore our relationship with Him. We love Him, because He first loved us. To be like Him, we must do the same – reach out, and build bridges. For me at iGovern, this meant looking for every opportunity to express genuine interest in the students – especially the ones who seem to be alone. That’s what Jesus did for me, it’s what I appreciate when others do for me, and so it’s what I’m called to do in return.

2)    To Influence and Lead

Another reason is rather obvious – relationships are how you influence and lead people. It’s just common sense – the more bridges you build, the more influential your castle will be. The quantity of bridges isn’t all that matters, though; quality is important too. You can have a thousand Facebook friends, but that kind of bridge generally isn’t strong enough to bear significant influence.

This might seem like a selfish perspective, and one only has to think of all the evil leaders the world has seen to realize that bridges/relationships can be used for manipulative purposes. Yet the bridge itself is a tool; and if one wants to be a leader of any stripe, you must be able to build and use it effectively.

3)    To Challenge and Grow

It’s really cool when building a relationship is easy; when we instantly “click” with someone, when it seems to “just happen.” But building relationships with people different from me, who were even difficult to get to know, stretched and taught me things I never would have learned otherwise. Some of them have become actual friendships, and some not. But every single one mattered.

The topic of relationships is one that has filled pages beyond number, and this pitiful little blog post can’t come close to anything comprehensive. I just wanted to share some of the reasons that motivated me in building bridges at camp, and now, in all of life.

Relationships are important; they change you, and they change the world.

Post by Grace Tate


  1. Grace~

    I love the castle analogy. I had never thought about relationships like that!

    And you are right-relationships are so important.

    Thanks for the encouragement to build bridges! I needed it. :)

    God Bless,
    Alexis B.

  2. This is beautifully written Grace. About a topic most people find perplexing. Lovely insight. Sue R. (Jill's mom)