The Network

Spider Web

Network.

What does the word “network” mean to you? Anything? Everything? Nothing?

It’s really developed into a big thing over the last dozen years or so. The word has a variety of definitions with a common theme “tying” them all together. The common theme is “connecting”. Connecting various parts, people, purposes, and whatever to form a network. Kind of like a spider’s web with its sticky, silk-like strands sewn together for one purpose. Or the human body with all its various parts, some large, some small, some seen and others hidden; but functioning together for a single objective.

Network.

As an ordained Assemblies of God minister, I, too, am part of a network. In fact, the District I belong to is officially named The Iowa District Council of the Assemblies of God, but does business using the name “Iowa Ministry Network”.

I must admit, I have at times been critical of my network. And while I have not broadcast my criticisms far and wide, in fact they haven’t left my house; still, my own personal feelings have affected the network to some degree.

Really? How can the personal feelings and criticisms of one individual affect a network of a few hundred members? Can critical thoughts alone have an impact on a network? It’s very possible.

Consider the network examples used earlier; the spider web and the human body. Let’s say one strand of the web was damaged deliberately. Even one damaged strand can diminish the web’s effectiveness.

The network’s effectiveness.

When I was young feller, I got a kick out of irritating spiders. I know, I’m weird, but when I saw a spider web, I’d toss little rocks, twigs, cigarette butts and pieces of paper into the web to see if the spider would react. Usually it would appear momentarily, then dart back into hiding. By the time I was finished, the “network” was in need of repair. And I’m sure the spider was thinking of a way to get even.

A number of years ago, while working as a painter in a foundry, I did something stupid and unsafe. I was painting heavy man-hole cover rings, weighing about 300 pounds. The parts were to be dip painted by using a small hoist and hook, dipping the part into the paint, then letting it hang over the paint while it dried. I didn’t use the correct hook and, as a result, dropped the casting onto my foot. All of a sudden, my body was offended and my foot broken.

My “network” was greatly damaged.

Even though my foot was the only part damaged, my whole body had to change what and how it did things for quite some time. As with the spider web, one broken part limited the strength of the network.

Using these analogies, suppose the broken web and busted foot kept quiet about their pain, their offense, and didn’t let the other parts of their network know they were hurting or offended. Would the web or body have noticed right away. Probably not. Not until there was a situation requiring the network’s full strength. Like when a huge bug slams into the web…

Paul wrote to the Ephesians about networking. He used the human body as the example. Actually, he referred to the Church of Jesus Christ as “the Body of Christ”. A Body, made up of parts joined together, networking for a common purpose.

“And He Himself (Jesus) gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV)

There’s one part I would like to draw your attention to: “from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies…” Joined and knit together BY WHAT EVERY JOINT (or strand of spider web) SUPPLIES.

For a network to be strong, EVERY JOINT must supply something of value to the rest of the network.

I began to realize my complaints were not helping build a strong network. Complaints don’t add to a network’s value, they only detract. Avoiding fellowship doesn’t add value either.

Ever hear someone say, “If I can’t say anything good, I won’t say anything at all”? That is not what I’m talking about. Paul wrote, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29 NLT) In other words, we all need to add value to those around us; those in our network. Don’t just keep quiet, saying nothing. Find something good to say so value will be added to YOUR network.

It’s also true in a local church body. The local church is a network.

What are you adding to the local body? What is your “joint” supplying to others? What do you say about your leaders? Encouraging words or venomous words?

I choose to add value to everything I’m connected to. My words will be words of blessing. I will only think the best of others. I will pray for my networks, believing God to give each member strength, wisdom, and total prosperity.

After all, we’re a network.