Networking at Funerals is Wrong, Unless . . .

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While driving through Casper, Wyoming, I saw this rather amusing sign about networking.  I had never considered the question of networking at funerals, but I certainly agree with the sentiment expressed in the sign.  You shouldn’t “network” at funerals.

Unless, that is, you understand what the Biblical essence of networking is.  If networking means trying to take advantage of people and making a business connection that serves your own selfish interests, then one could hardly think of anything more gauche than “funetworking.”  

On the other hand, the biblical concept of networking that I have explained in The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus  sees networking as the essential mechanism through which the Kingdom of God–God’s sovereign rule–spreads from person to person.  It involves the establishment of relationships through which you can serve the needs of others effectively and with love.

In his own relationship building and service to others, the Gospels clearly portray Jesus as showing up at weddings and funerals.  At the Wedding at Cana, he got pressed into service by his mother, converting water into wine and helping the happy couple avoid public embarrassment.    That service unquestionably built his network, though nothing untoward or selfish occurred.  Jesus showed up late for the funeral of Lazarus in John 11, and while others wailed and mourned and added to the stress of the family, Jesus served them by raising Lazarus from the dead.  He did the same at the funeral of a little girl in Matthew 9:23-26.  As a result,  “The news about this spread all over that part of the country” (GNB).  In Luke 7:12-16, Jesus ran into the funeral of a grown man and wound up raising him from the dead.  Consequently, “They all were filled with fear and praised God.  ‘A great prophet has appeared among us!’ they said; ‘God has come to save his people.’”

Why does anyone go to a funeral?  I attend them to offer my sincere respect, affection, and help for the family of the person who has died.  I usually see other friends there, and I offer and receive comfort from the renewal, and often, deepening of the relationship.  If you see an opportunity to help someone at a funeral, the question “What would Jesus do?” has an obvious answer.  He’d step in to help.

In the highest and best sense of the word “networking”–the Jesus Way of Networking–funerals turn out to offer an excellent opportunity for Kingdom Networking that seeks to serve others and express God’s rule in every situation.

Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.  All rights reserved.  http://www.josephcastleberry.com;  joe@josephcastleberry.com

Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington.  He is the author of The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus and Your Deepest Dream:  Discovering God’s True Vision for Your Life . Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.

 

When One Connection Outweighs A Thousand

Networking can create great excitement, and having lots of friends, colleagues, and connections offers many opportunities for fulfillment as we serve others and as others step up to help us in our needs and projects. Whether you have five friends or five thousand, the more the merrier.
On the other hand, one connection can sometimes outweigh a thousand. In the Bible, the “Song of Solomon” presents a paradigm case. Although some interpreters see this ancient love poetry as a description of one of King Solomon’s many marital loves, the best view understands that the story centers on two common subjects of the Kingdom–a couple deeply in love with each other. Interpreting the song in that way, the Good News Translation draws a striking contrast:

“Let the king have sixty queens, eighty concubines, young women without number!

But I love only one, and she is as lovely as a dove.” (Song of Songs 6:8, 9 GNT)

Before Solomon finished his conjugal adventures, he would have a thousand concubines in his harem, but he would never find what that one common man found–one woman to fill up his eyes, arms, and heart so completely that there could be no room left for any other.  I will always thank God that I found such a woman, who fixes my heart so fully in both senses of the word “fix.”

In the sphere of love, one connection can offer more value than a thousand, but the principle goes further.  In all of our relationships, the one should usually outweigh the thousand.  A common rule of courtesy demands that the person in front of you should feel like they are the most important person in the world to you at that moment.  Maintaining real presence in every context you inhabit, giving your whole attention, making each person feel truly important–these basic social manners suffer real threats in a world of mobile phones, instant and constant internet, and multimedia.  The clock ticks on, and the next appointment beckons.  But when the person you do business with at any time feels they have your total attention, it can create powerful collaboration on any task.  Attention to the one means that two can change the world.

No sphere demonstrates this truth more than the duet of marriage and the circle of family life.   Busy lives do present a challenge, and treating the one as more important than the thousand taxes our capacity at work as much as it does at home.  I need to ratchet up my own attention to the Value of One and my commitment to presence.  This very moment offers a great time to get on it.

Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.  All rights reserved.  http://www.josephcastleberry.com;  joe@josephcastleberry.com

Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington.  He is the author of The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus and Your Deepest Dream:  Discovering God’s True Vision for Your Life . Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.

 

 

TKN Video: Education, A Higher Calling

Here’s an interview that I did on the TBN Television Program, Education, A Higher Calling.

 

Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.  All rights reserved.  http://www.josephcastleberry.com;  joe@josephcastleberry.com

Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington.  He is the author of The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus and Your Deepest Dream:  Discovering God’s True Vision for Your Life . Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.

2014, Another Year to Bell the Cat

A fable from medieval times tells of a council of mice that met to discuss their perennial problem: the cat. After a few moments of discussion, a brilliant young mouse proposed a new solution. If the mice could hang a bell around the cat’s neck, they could defeat its stealth and always know when it was stalking them. The younger mice celebrated the end of their problem until a wizened old mouse said, “Y’all have it all worked out, for sure, but how’re y’all gonna put the bell on him?” When neither an agent nor a method for belling the cat emerged, the old mouse said, “IT IS USELESS TO PROPOSE IMPOSSSIBLE REMEDIES.” But perhaps the ancient wisdom is wrong.  It is not always useless.

As always, the coming of a new year gives me pause to reflect upon resolutions I will adopt to attain greater holiness. As usual, I will pledge on New Year’s Eve to read the Bible, pray every day, lose 15 pounds, run a marathon, and neither see, hear, nor speak any evil in 2014. As the year unfolds, I’ll read the Bible faithfully and pray every day. I’ll lose weight and then put it back on in time to lose it again next year. I’ll probably even run another marathon. But I will certainly not attain perfect holiness this year.

So why bother planning an impossible remedy? If the perfect holiness that God has imputed to me in Christ cannot be actualized in practice, what good does it do to pledge and yearn and strive for a life of holiness?

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said: “When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less.” I saw this truth once while attempting to share my faith with a rather licentious man. In the course of the discussion I said, “I am far more concerned about the evil in me than the evil I see in others.” He pressed me to share details of the evil in me, only to assure me that such evils existed only in my perception. As a matter of fact, he believed in no objective evil or good in the world, seeing it all as a matter of personal perspective. The more I tried to eradicate the evil in me, the more I saw it as serious and real. The more the other man endulged himself, the less he believed it existed anywhere.

I do not want to live that way, unaware of the evil that constantly seeks to ambush me. So I strive to eradicate it. Even though I will not utterly defeat it during my life in the flesh, I want to identify it and call it out. We work at holiness because if we do not, sin will sneak up on us–not like a mere cat, but like a lion seeking to devour us.

Best wishes with your best resolutions this year!  (It’s never too late to make a few.)

Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.  All rights reserved.  http://www.josephcastleberry.com;  joe@josephcastleberry.com

Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington.  He is the author of The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus and Your Deepest Dream:  Discovering God’s True Vision for Your Life . Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.

 

TKN Audio: When Many Points Come Together

7-points 

7-Points in Florence, Alabama

When you reach out to someone to start a relationship, they must accept your offer for a connection to take hold.  Successful networking requires a two-way street.  The easiest and most delightful networking often happens when two parties reach out simultaneously.  Sometimes, even more people will get in on the act as multiple people decide that two people should meet.  A two-way street is great, but sometimes networking can come together like the intersection of several roads.  I fondly remember a place in my hometown, Florence, Alabama, where seven roads came together in one intersection.  When many roads meet in one place, you can expect a lot of options to come together!

Recently, a Seattle Christian radio station owned by Salem Communications, KGNW (820 AM) hosted a pastor’s luncheon and invited me to attend.  I had a great time at the event and met several of the people at the station. I met Stan Lander, Senior Marketing Consultant, and he worked with my assistant, Anne Kuchera to book me for two interviews with Doug Bursch, who hosts the Live from Seattle program during the all-important afternoon drive time slot (4:00-6:00 P.M.)  After those interviews, they also scheduled me for an interview on their Spanish-language sister station in.

I totally like everybody at the station!  Chuck Olmstead, the Director of Ministry Relations, is a real mensch! Stan Lander has become a genuine friend, along with his son, David.  Doug Bursch, the host of Live from Seattle, who graduated from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, where I used to serve as Academic Dean, does a fantastic job as host of the program, and his producer, Nick Shishkowski, bends over backwards to make things easy.

I must not have done too badly as a guest on the show, so the station invited me to host the show while Doug took some vacation time.  My schedule would only let me accept one day. At the point where all the relationships converged, I got to host the show last Monday.  I fell in love with radio!

Here’s the audio from my program.  It focuses on the Faith at Work Movement in Seattle.  I hope you’ll enjoy it!


For more ideas about networking, see The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus (My Healthy Church, 2013).  Order it in paperback or Kindle edition at http://www.amazon.com/The-Kingdom-Net-Learning-ebook/dp/B00EDO1F6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1376544126&sr=8-2&keywords=Joseph+Castleberry.

Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.  joe@josephcastleberry.com

Dr. Joseph Castleberry, President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington, is the author of Your Deepest Dream:  Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus.  Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.

Thanksgiving and Networking

Dessert with the Act Six Scholars of Northwest University

Dessert at the President’s Home with the Act Six Scholars of Northwest University

Thanksgiving plays a big role in Networking!  Writing thank-you notes should become second nature to anyone who not only wants to display good manners, but also make the most of positive encounters.  Whenever someone takes time out of his or her schedule to meet with you, best networking practices require a thank you note.  Not only does it remind the other person of the positive meeting, it provides a great opportunity to set up the next one.

At Thanksgiving time, we make a special effort to do what we should do all the time.  As a matter of fact, the Bible clearly states that God wants us to give thanks at all times in every situation.  1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  Along the same lines, Romans 12:2 enjoins us not to be conformed to this age, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so we may know what God’s good, perfect, and pleasing will for us is.  Nothing renews the mind like rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving.  We do not have to remain hostages to the bitter, painful, defeated discourse of this age.

Someone will always ask how we can rejoice and pray and give thanks when there is so much pain in the world.  The Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno wrote about “the tragic sense of life”—the fact that we act out our lives against the tragic backdrop that we all die.  The tragedies, defeats, pains, disappoinments, disillusionments and failures of life present a formidable barrier to thanksgiving for many.

In Psalm 9:1-2 the psalmist David offers a powerful case for thanksgiving “in spite of.”  He sings “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.”  As the psalm continues, it becomes obvious that he has recently emerged from brutal conflict and affliction from his enemies.  As a matter of fact, the song fits well against the backdrop of Absalom’s Rebellion, in which David’s son had driven him from Jerusalem in order to take his throne, but wound up beheaded.

In the note that introduces the psalm, a scribe has written “upon Muth labben,” which means “according to the tune of ‘The Death of the Son.” Imagine writing a song of thanksgiving and setting it to the mournful tune of a son’s death.  The background music of David’s singing was the death of his son.  I don’t know how he had the faith and hope to do that.  But I know why we can do the same.

The death of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, on the cross has become the background music of life in God’s Kingdom.  Unamuno’s “tragic sense of life” undeniably remains—all of the defeats and failures and tragedies of life continue to certify that we will die.  But the new tune, better still, the swelling orchestra behind the believer’s song of thanks is the death and resurrection of Jesus.   Like David, we sing our song of thanksgiving to the tune of Muth-Labben, but Jesus has modulated that brooding dirge into a major key.  Because he has tasted death, defeat, frustration, and pain for us all and has nailed it to the Cross, our song of thanks has been transformed forever.  Sing it loudly, and rejoice. May you not only have, but also do, a Happy Thanksgiving!

For more, see The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus (My Healthy Church, 2013).  Order it in paperback or Kindle edition at http://www.amazon.com/The-Kingdom-Net-Learning-ebook/dp/B00EDO1F6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1376544126&sr=8-2&keywords=Joseph+Castleberry.

Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.  joe@josephcastleberry.com

Dr. Joseph Castleberry, President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington, is the author of Your Deepest Dream:  Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus.  Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.

The Jigsaw Network

Business man looks to finish puzzle

This morning I heard Sonny Vu, Founder of Misfit Wearables, speak at KIROS, a Christian Business Breakfast group that I regularly attend here in the Seattle area.  As I listened to him talk about the culture of their company (and about hiring people who fit the culture of a company called Misfit) I thought about how everyone really feels like a misfit, at least in some situations.  In the group that really counts for a lot of people, the so-called “inner ring” or “inner circle,” no one really feels they truly fit in.

I think this sense of not fitting in is based on our individuality.  The bright side of our creation as individuals is our uniqueness.  But our fallenness converts uniqueness into a burden.

Think of people as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  Each piece has its own angles and curves and indentations.  In a box of thousands of pieces, the maker has cut each one in such a way that it only fits into a few others.  But when each piece has found its mates and the whole puzzle comes together, a beautiful scene emerges.

When people focus on their uniqueness as individuals, either egotism or despair results.  The egotist considers himself special because of his particular angles and curves, while the desperate one regards herself as odd or a misfit because of her differences.  Both errors result when we regard ourselves only as individuals and not as pieces of a larger social picture.  The true meaning of our uniqueness only emerges when we find people whose uniqueness complements ours and hooks us into a coherent whole.  When my uniqueness connects to your uniqueness, something truly special occurs, and the more people we connect to, the more the meaning of it all grows.

Networking brings people together.  Great networking brings people together for the sake of a larger perspective.  The Holy Spirit’s networking enlarges the Kingdom of God and gives it meaning in the context of human relationship, love, and shared mission.

As a jigsaw puzzle works by combining thousands of odd pieces, the best workplace cultures, the most effective churches, the most functional societes result from the skilled collection and combination of willing misfits.  As a leader, you sometimes play the puzzler; sometimes you play the willing misfit.  Both roles are crucial to great networking.

For more, see The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus (My Healthy Church, 2013).  Order it in paperback or Kindle edition at http://www.amazon.com/The-Kingdom-Net-Learning-ebook/dp/B00EDO1F6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1376544126&sr=8-2&keywords=Joseph+Castleberry.

Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.  joe@josephcastleberry.com

Dr. Joseph Castleberry, President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington, is the author of Your Deepest Dream:  Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus.  Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.