“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
Sounding like a Buddhist with this karmic concept of causes and effects in our network of relationships with others, Melville teaches us an important truth about life: We cannot live only for ourselves.
This truth has a deep resonance for me. And many implications. For instance, the practice of networking has taken on a central significance in our lives these days. Whether networking with prospects through LinkedIn, or networking in a church basement with job hunters, everyone is networking. Networking has become a means to our ends: a sale, an interview, a job. Though we are connecting with others, the aim is economic, the level utilitarian. In sum, we are using one another.
Not that this is bad. If networking helps you achieve your goals and attain success and happiness, that’s fine.
But, with Melville’s wisdom in mind, I wonder if there is a more profound level of networking that can be plumbed.
Just recently, for the six weeks leading up to Easter, I facilitated a group at my church. We met once a week for 90 minutes for the six weeks of Lent. Though we were all members of St. Matthias parish, we were mostly strangers to each other. The stated aim of the sessions was “faith sharing,” but I think it could just as well be called spiritual networking.
Through the six meetings, we connected with one another at a faith level where we delved into the working of the Spirit in our lives:
Sharing faith: Each of us is somewhere on our journey of faith, that lifelong road we travel toward discovering Why we are here and What we are meant to do.
Telling our story to one another: When sharing faith, it helps to tell our story, and hear the stories of others, while making the connection to the Good News story that guides us on the road.
Inspiring action: Just as business networking can produce a sale or a job lead, spiritual networking can inspire action intended to make the world a better place in some way.
Letting the Spirit in: The key to inspiring action is letting the Spirit in so that divine wisdom can find a place in the circle of friends.
Living for others: So when spiritual networking produces inspired action, the participants begin to live for others, making a positive difference in the world.
As a result of the series, we are no longer strangers to one another. Now when we see each other at church, there is a twinkling of recognition in our eyes, a wave, and perhaps even a hug.
And what’s more, the spiritual networking process lights a fire, a burning in the heart that pulls you in the direction of service to others.
There is a more profound type of networking available, one that reminds us that we are indeed living for others.
Posted by Terrence Seamon on the Monday after Easter April 25, 2011. For more ideas on a deeper form of networking, contact Terry and invite him to speak to your group.