Since I started preparing for this adventure of life-long missions at 17 I have heard the word “network” countless times. If you are at all like me that word strikes fear into your heart.
To build a network is an idea that has been drilled into me as I started my career as a missionary. It is important in ministry to build a network of people that pour wisdom into you and mentor you, to connect with people that get your situation. We need community. I am 100% on board with this. It is oh so important.
But being the introvert that I am it has taken seven years to form even the smallest of networks. Going to networking events and trying to find other people in ministry to do life with is no fun for me. I hate when people tell me I need to network more and I hate that I am not good at it.
However, in the past six weeks in Costa Rica I have been learning something about networks. My network is so much wider than a group of colleagues and work connections. It is deeper than I ever realized. If you have ever spent significant time learning a language you know that it is not easy. It is mentally, physically and emotionally draining. You spend hours in class only to go home and do hours of homework. You get frustrated because you can't get your point across or at times don’t understand the sermon at church. It is draining. It brings you to your lowest point and you learn to rely on the tiniest of victories. In the times of frustration I have had to lean heavily on my network- not my colleagues, not other ministers or missionaries…I have leaned on my friends in the states. My friends have talked me down when I am in a panic, encouraged me when I really need it and given me the push to keep going.
A network is so much more than I originally thought it was when I started this journey. It is more than connections that help you get ahead and give you opportunities. It’s not a scary thought anymore. It is the relationships that come about organically that push me to be better. It’s new relationships and some old, some from the marketplace and some from the mission field.
I like to think I can do it on my own. I like to think I am independent enough and strong enough that I don’t need people. And all the time God is reminding me how untrue that is. We need people. We lean on God first and foremost but sometimes you just need your network. This has been proven time and time again in the past few weeks. I am so thankful for the network I have here in Costa Rica but even more so for the network that has been building for years. The network I did not have to work for. The network that God knew was necessary and began to put together years ago.
I am blessed by my friends across the globe that have been essential to me lasting this long in ministry and in life.
Friends, you da real MVPs.