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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Networking, Investments, and Community

(Alright, so I am on a roll today - this is my third post!)

When my wife and I came to Louisville almost two years ago, we left our families and the church which we served and became very close to many people. After the first couple of weeks of moving boxes and getting adjusted to the new location, we realized that we really did not know anybody here. It was the weirdest thing to go into the Wal-Mart a couple of miles away and not seeing someone we knew. We used to allot 30 extra minutes when going to Wal-Mart because we would inevitably end up in conversation with some we knew.

The last two years has been a wonderful journey for my wife and me. We have met some wonderful people to share our lives with, many whom are faithful servants in our local church (Ninth and O Baptist Church). I have also been greatly blessed by the edification and encouragement from fellow students at Southern who share similar passions and interests both in and out of the classroom. Then, in March of 2005, I started this blogging thing and have come to know many of you through interaction, email, and even meeting in person. The Band of Bloggers meeting a couple months ago was remarkable in that I was able to see, hug, and converse with many of you in person.

With that said, I have been thinking more and more about how I can effectively spend my time with the various people the Lord has graciously given my wife and me. The community of believers with whom I share my life is really important to me, and I want to network my life in a way that the greatest investment can be made into the ones I have been privileged to know and serve God with.

So I wanted to pose this question to you: How do you network?

Let me share with you how I have attempted to balance my time and strengthen the network of believers in my life. Here is a list that I drafted the other day:

  1. Wife and family - constitutes my family and my wife’s family
  1. Inner Circle (brotherhood) - constitutes about 12 brothers of kindred spirit whom I am very close to
  1. Church family and Louisville friends - constitutes my local church and friends from seminary
  1. Spiritual leaders and mentors - constitutes about six men whom I converse or meet with regularly
  1. Coworkers and unbelieving friends - constitutes the people whom I am actively sharing the gospel with
  1. Blogging brothers - constitutes the brothers I know through the internet
  1. OOT friends - constitutes friends I have known well and keep in touch in other parts of the world
  1. Disciples - constitutes a couple of guys I regularly invest in (disciple)
  1. New Contacts - constitutes new people I look forward to meeting

Given that I work 3rd shift, my schedule is a bit different than most of you. One might wonder how I get things done in a day. One answer is I usually have 3-4 more hours in a day than most people (meaning I sleep usually sleep from 7:30-12:00 p.m.). Anyway, at this point, here is how I try to balance my time and continue strengthening my relationships with those in this group:

  1. Wife and Family: My nights are free with my wife, and we visit our families about every 6-8 weeks.
  2. Inner Circle: I call these brothers at least once a week and usually schedule breakfast or lunch with 2-3 of them a week.
  3. Church family and Louisville friends: Of course, I am involved in our SS small group and other ministries in the church. Classmates I try to have lunch with during the semester. Occasionally, we have them over for dinner (and laundry if they are students on campus).
  4. Spiritual leaders and mentors: I usually converse via email or phone but meet up when necessary.
  5. Coworkers and unbelieving friends: I spend 20 hours a week with them. Almost daily I am meeting someone new and sharing my life with them. I also use Sunday nights to bring them to church with me and fellowship afterwards.
  6. Blogging brothers: Most my blogging is done from 4:30-6:30 a.m. That gives me sufficient time to interact with my brothers during a time when my wife is asleep (not to take away from our time together).
  7. OOT friends: Drive time is office time for me in which I make daily phone calls. I try to plan my phone calls in advance to make sure I am not overlooking or forgetting friends the Lord has blessed me with. I normally have about an hour driving daily, so this gives me plenty of time to have meaningful conversations.
  8. Disciples: Right now, they are not in Louisville, so my labors here are through phone, email, and visits.
  9. New Contacts: Always meeting new folks which is a joy for me.

So that’s pretty much how I do it. Got any suggestions? How do you plan your time, make your investments, build your network? I really would be interested in hearing advice for me or how you do it yourself.

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