“I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one. (Ezekiel 22:30 NLT)
Winning the right to be heard starts with excellence. I’m not an expert, but I know this: building bridges takes a tremendous amount of time, requires precision and is costly and demanding.
Whether it’s the literal bridges we drive on or those we build in business, ministry, friendships and with coworkers, bridge-building is truly an art. And regardless of what we do, we are each called as followers of Jesus to build bridges. Sharing the gospel. Winning the right to be heard. Allowing those around us to discover the life-transforming power of Jesus in us.
Winning the right to be heard starts with intentionality and credibility. The power of a testimony often begins through your work, with few or no words spoken. You can have an amazing ministry just by loving and serving someone without any expectations or reciprocation. When it comes to lifestyle evangelism, connecting with your neighbor or developing a new friendship, there are some key things I’ve learned over the years that might be helpful.
Love people until they ask why. Let your actions speak so loud that people can’t help but see your authenticity and ultimately ask for an explanation for the reason you do what you do. Build a bridge of friendship until people ask why. Be so intriguing and serve and love so well that people have to know what makes you different. Give them no choice but to demand an explanation.
Prove your craft before asking for something. Show your competency before you demand your friend or coworker or neighbor listens to what you have to say. It’s crucial that we lead with competence, back it up with character and then share our faith. Be great at what you do first, and earn the right to be heard. Let your competence and excellence create credibility. Lead with excellence, back it up with character and provide a reason for your excellence—your faith and devotion to God.
Ask more questions than they do. Many times asking great questions is much more strategic than giving great answers. Spend a lot of time listening. Once you’ve asked a great question, listen. And listen more. And more.
Find points of connection and shared interests, and be intentional. Find out what motivates someone, what their interests are and what they enjoy. Is it sports? Rock climbing? History? Whatever it is, find out and then build on those areas of shared interests. And here’s the key: the ultimate value of the connection and shared interest is not for you; it’s more for others. Be authentic in your approach.
Follow up. This is the No. 1 step that everyone seems to forget. We have to follow up. Never assume that because you haven’t heard from someone, it means they’re not interested. They’re busy, just like you. Take the first step and reach out. And then reach out again.