In the London Underground (called “The Tube”), there’s a gap between the station platform and the door of the train. As trains approach, an announcement comes on and you hear a perfectly British voice say, “MIND THE GAP!”
“Mind the gap!” has been a part of the London Underground experience since 1969 and is nearly as famous as The Tube itself. These words are repeated thousands of times each day. They’re tiled on the floor and have even been painted on the walls alongside images of Great White sharks.
If you’ve traveled this system before, you know how important these three words are to your safety. But to mind the gap has meaning above ground too. It’s especially helpful when it comes to building relationships well.
Maybe you’ve never been on The Tube, but have you ever caught your heel in the crack of uneven pavement? What about those times you’ve been in flats and still stumbled as you walked a familiar sidewalk? It takes you by surprise, right? Maybe even makes you huff in frustration or laugh with embarrassment.
The gap we’re talking about in the London Underground is like this, but bigger.
If it’s your first time riding The Tube, hearing “Mind the gap!” on repeat can seem a little like overkill, at least until you take a careless step close to the edge of the platform. The rush of air from an oncoming train is already enough to mess up your hair and your balance without you getting too close to the edge as the train races to a stop. Though the space between the platform and the train is bigger than a sidewalk crack, it’s just as unassuming… and way more dangerous.
The gap doesn’t look like much, but it’s wide enough to swallow umbrellas, bags, ankles, or distracted teenagers.
However, the reason the gap is dangerous isn’t because of the actual distance between the platform and the train doors.
A little distraction… a little stress… a little fatigue… a little lateness is all it takes to turn the gap into a very stealthy Great White shark ready to take you down if given the opportunity.
“Mind the gap!” is repeated over and over again with the intent to spare you any injury or loss. This is essential for first-time Tube riders (especially tourists), but also important for the most seasoned commuter who can just as easily misstep along a familiar route if their mind is elsewhere.
We have the same need to mind the gap when it comes to building relationships well.
There’s a space between where you are and where you’re going that’s only possible through relationships with others.
You were designed this way. So, to mind the gap in your journey is to choose these relationships carefully and to nurture them appropriately.
Unlike The Tube, when you mind the gap in your relationships, it gets personal.
You’re looking at the people who surround you and selecting some of them to walk more closely with you than others. This means you’re also choosing who doesn’t get this kind of access to your life.
Being careful about your relationships can make things a little uncomfortable or even messy. It can be tough if you need to reframe a friendship with someone from high school or distance yourself from a professional friend whose ambitious approach to work is asking you to compromise your values.
But being careful can also build your life in amazing ways. When you invite someone in a little closer—someone you can trust to keep your confidence about a crazy business idea or dream of singing on Broadway—your ability to see things through gets a boost!
God knew how important relationships would be to living the life you were created to live, so He made sure to share a lot of practical wisdom and guiding principles to keep you on the right track.His wisdom ranges from how to choose friends to insights on bridging different cultures. It includes ways to love people well (even your enemies), keys to living in forgiveness and traits you need to avoid to stay out of trouble (e.g. ditching the hot temper for a slow and thoughtful response). If you’re looking for a place to begin discovering more of God’s practical relational wisdom, read one chapter of Proverbs every day.
In Luke 6, we get a close look at this wisdom in action as Jesus chooses His 12 Apostles from among the many who were following and learning from Him. After He makes this selection, He begins teaching on how to do life well together.
As He teaches, Jesus covers four big ideas that apply to the way we should build our relationships even today. These are four foundational ideas for identifying who gets to be close to you in everyday life.
If you need to think through who really belongs in your close relationship circle, look for these four traits and ask yourself:
Is this person connected to God and to other believers?
Is this person generous with their time, talent and resources?
Does this person judge or criticize others?
Are they reading their Bible, going to church, in a small group?
It always comes back to relationships.
These questions are a quick assessment tool that can help you mind the gap in yours so you can move from where you are to where you were created to be. Our FREE tool this month will keep you moving forward in this process. It’s designed to help you see who should be allowed to step more closely into your life. We suggest you save this one, because you will use it over and over again!
The gap between where you are and where you’re going requires relationships, but not just any relationships.
To mind the gap is to choose the people who make this journey possible. You have to choose well.
Don’t be afraid of the process. As you take steps toward forming the relationships you need, you’ll create space for others to do the same.
You can mind the gap with confidence! Start now.
Until next week,