Networking, connecting with others, is an expression often used in business these days as a means to climbing the corporate ladder. “To be successful, it’s all in who you know”, they say. Networking, the whole idea of connecting with others, is vital in other areas of life as well, particularly within the American Redoubt. Networking, in the Redoubt sense, is not intended as way to move up in the world. Rather, networking is the cultivation of productive relationships with a purpose in mind. In the New Testament, Paul gave a glowing example of how well networking and connecting with others can work.
Paul lived in a day and time when the simplest forms of communications took effort. Writing a short letter was out of the question for many who were not educated. For those who could read and write, the written word was cumbersome; with no pen, pencil and paper to write with, people resorted to using papyrus, leather sheets or scrolls, and even potsherd (broken pottery). In addition, travelling any distance to deliver letters or to visit took an inordinate amount of time and was, at best, a dangerous and dirty adventure. Despite such obstacles, Paul successfully connected with others and gave us many examples of how to do so.
1. Paul visited and communed with his fellow believers every chance he got. He went on at least 3 missionary journeys that we know of. As he journeyed, he didn’t simply go to a destination and go home again. He stopped wherever he could along the way to lead, guide, preach, and heal. And it wasn’t done in a day or two; he spent time with individuals. Paul spent nearly a year and a half living with Aquila and Priscilla while in Corinth. He often ate meals, prayed with, and taught those he visited. Paul knew how vitally important it was to interact and to fellowship with others of like mind.
2. Paul prayed for his fellow believers; he knew the power of prayer and routinely approached the throne of God on behalf of the saints on earth. Paul modeled prayer when he appealed to the Lord for those at Ephesus: he asked the Lord to mightily strengthen them through His Spirit, to dwell in their hearts, to root and ground them in love, to give them discernment, and to fill them with Christ’s love. Paul’s plea to God was not a general “please help them” type of request; Paul pleaded with the Lord was specific and tangible – a request for God’s work in the lives of other believers. Paul knew that his precise and detailed petitions would be specifically answered by a God strong enough to answer prayer.
3. Paul exhorted and encouraged his fellow believers. Paul was a prolific letter writer; in fact, much of the New Testament contains letters he wrote. He often used phrases such as “I beseech” or “I exhort” and followed with wise teaching and prudent counsel to encourage believers to follow Christ whole heartedly. Paul’s exhortation, at times, was harsh and blunt; however, Paul’s urging was done to keep believers to on track and to stay the course. Paul actually put into practice the Proverb regarding iron sharpening iron by being the man who sharpens the countenance of his friends. Paul identified many of his fellow believers by name and often ended his letters end with greetings to specific individuals. Paul recognized the strengths and weaknesses of people and routinely gave a word of encouragement, instruction, or rebuking as needed. Paul understood that other believers, young and old, needed encouragement, guidance, and sometimes correction and instruction along the way.
4. Paul mentored certain fellow believers. Timothy was probably the most known of Paul’s protégée’s. Paul knew Timothy’s family, his mother and his grandmother, and referred to Timothy as his son. Paul took Timothy under his wing and taught him, guided him, and instructed him. Paul walked side by side with Timothy, giving him on the job training, coaching and encouraging Timothy as his counselor. The ultimate result was the development of Timothy into a more effective minister of the gospel. Paul knew the value of raising up the next generation of strong leaders through mentoring.
In today’s day and age, technology has made networking and connecting with others a breeze; phones, email, cars, planes, and even simple paper and pencil have allowed connecting with others to be simple. However, networking and connecting contains far more than what technology can provide. As the life of Paul shows, cultivating relationships is done one on one, by seeing and fulfilling the needs of others, by lifting up people, situations and circumstances in prayer and expecting the Almighty One to hear and answer those petitions. Cultivation is done by walking side by side other believers, by giving an encouraging word or asking the tough questions when correction is needed. Relationships are developed through mentoring, counseling, and teaching as a means to develop Godly skills for future generations.
Connecting with others, networking, is vital for the American Redoubt. As troubled times bring patriots to the Redoubt, simply moving to the region and settling in isn’t enough. Building networks and forging connections creates the framework for solid communities and strong foundations on which to build the American Redoubt. So, what can networking look like in the American Redoubt? Meeting face to face with others within the Redoubt whenever possible is important in building connections. When in-person gatherings are not possible, the use of technology – phone, email – or simply writing notes and letters, provides an easy means of linking with others. It is through these personal interactions that those in the Redoubt should sharpen and encourage fellow patriots. Prayer should be a priority within the Redoubt. Prayer groups, prayer partners, and specific times set aside for prayer allows believers within the Redoubt to lift up precise and detailed petitions to the Lord. Prayer, however, doesn’t stop with the petition; those within the Redoubt should also pray in faith, believing that God will mightily answer those prayers according to His will. Finally, to build the Redoubt and preserve it for the next generation, mentors need to step up to lead, guide, and teach. Networking, for the American Redoubt, is the cultivation of productive relationships with the specific purpose of creating and maintaining a safe haven, a refuge, for those who love God, liberty, and have a desire to live out the freedoms richly granted by God. Strong connections make for a strong Redoubt. You in?