BUILD BRIDGES NOT FENCES
Once upon a time two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on the older brother's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's toolbox. "I'm looking for a few days work" he said. "Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?"
"Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor, in fact, it's my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll go him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence - - an 8-foot fence -- so I won't need to see his place or his face anymore."
The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."
The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge -- a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all -- and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched.
"You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done." The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. "No, wait! Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother. "I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but, I have many more bridges to build."
REMEMBER THIS: God won't ask what kind of car you drove, but God will ask how many people you drove who didn't have transportation.
God won't ask the square footage of your house, but God will ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
God won't ask about the clothes you had in your closet, but God will ask how many you helped to clothe.
God won't ask about your social status, but God will ask what kind of class you displayed.
God won't ask how many material possessions you had, but God will ask if they dictated your life.
God won't ask what your highest salary was, but God will ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.
God won't ask how many promotions you received, but God will ask how you promoted others.
God won't ask what your job title was, but God will ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.
God won't ask what you did to help yourself, but God will ask what you did to help others.
God won't ask how many friends you had, but God will ask how many people to whom you were a friend.
God won't ask what you did to protect your rights, but God will ask what you did to protect the rights of others.
God won't ask in what neighborhood you lived, but God will ask how you treated your neighbors.
God won't ask about the color of your skin, but God will ask about the content of your character.
God won't ask how many times your deeds matched your words, but God will ask how many times they didn't.