Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Building your network, part 2

Now you have a foundational network in place, how do you add to it? How do you grow it into a larger network? Do you even need to grow it bigger?

To answer the last question first: you may not need to build it bigger. The Lord knows exactly how many of His people you need to know in order to be led to the place He has for you!

But you also need to be a good steward of the opportunities for new relationships God puts before you. After all, when we're talking about "building your network" then what we really mean is adding new relationships to your life. And these relationships will either be as brothers and sisters in Christ, or people who do not believe but who nevertheless may enrich your life (and who certainly need the Gospel!). One way or another, can anyone say they have "too many friends" or that they know too many people?

So really, building your network is about taking advantage of the social opportunities that are naturally a part of your life, and seizing those that are offered to you.

What might this look like? Here are a few examples:
  • New classmates. It is unlikely that you will know every classmate in your classes at seminary. If you make it a point to sit beside someone new in one class every semester and befriend them (or even just get acquainted with them), you'll gain 6-10 new friends every semester.
  • Leaders at your "seminary" church. As you live an active life as a member of the church, and get involved in leadership and service there, you will inevitably get to know a few of the leaders in your congregation.
  • Members of your "home" church. If you go to seminary in a city different from your hometown, your home church (in your hometown) will be interested in your progress at seminary. They may even ask you to give a report on what you have been doing and learning when you return home. Take note of the people in your home congregation that take especial interest in your seminary training-- these will be the ones who see themselves as stakeholders in your current and future ministry. And here is a great opportunity to build some new friendships with people who care about you.
  • Co-laborers in ministry. If you're involved in ministry during seminary (and if you're not, then I question whether you're really being well-trained for ministry), then your co-laborers in that ministry are a part of your network-- they have seen your gifts and abilities for ministry at work, and can testify to your fitness for ministry. They'll understand as well as anyone what sorts of ministry opportunities you are best suited for.

Again, this list isn't exhaustive-- there will be other opportunities for you to build your network. But you should have an idea from these what ways you have to grow the number of relationships you have with other members of the Body of Christ. Next time, I'll talk about growing and maintaining these relationships.

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