Leadership Characteristics of Jesus and Social Networking
Social networking has become a phrase that is being used in just about every organization. Whether it involves volunteers, employees or those who belong to a religious group, social networking is an active part of those teams.
What Is Social Networking?
Many refer to social networking as the grouping together of individuals into a particular group for a defined cause. Some rural communities and city neighborhoods have possessed the qualities of a social network for some time, they only did not give it a title. Here is a simple definition of the term:
- Social = The involving of allies who are marked by a strong companionship with friends or associates. It is an attempt to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others.
- Networking = The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions that cultivate productive relationships.
Jesus Christ and Social Networking
Jesus created social networking thousands of years ago! There may be those who think this is a new concept. However, Christ was building cooperative relationships in the first century. If social networking is based on a progressive structure that encourages people to both express their individuality and exchange similar interests, then Jesus was leading his disciples to do just that. This action is exactly what Jesus did when he recruited his diverse group of followers.
There can be thousands of words used to define a social network. However, there are three words that can help identify how Jesus created his social network:
By no means do these three words give the full scope of what Jesus was doing in recruiting his disciples into an active social group but it is a start.
All four of the first disciples, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John were from a common background with a joint occupation. They were all fishermen! Social networking recognizes common similarities among people. This recognition is what makes an organization strong. This behavior is what made the recruitment of the first four of Christ’s disciple such a good choice. Jesus did not pick these disciples by random choice. It was evident that he had a purpose and reason in the calling of his first four followers.
If you talk to anyone today who has an opinion about social networks they will tell you that these organizations are built best around friends. That does not mean that they are always called “friends.” In fact, a social network like Linkedin, a business-oriented social network, refers to the group as a “connection” not “friends.”
Friends are trusted members of the social network that are often allowed to do things that non-friends are not authorized to do. Jesus said to his disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
Social networking can be defined by many words, however, “friend” is one of the strongest and clearest definitions.
Growing groups are a good way to meet people with similar interest. This behavior is what happened with the recruitment of the disciples of Jesus. There were at least 12 men who were interested enough in the teachings of Christ that they were willing to leave their present occupations and engage in a three-year journey of following Jesus.
A social network creates a group that is interested in a particular topic or subject. There was no doubt that this group of men were very interested in Christ, as a group. The first four fishermen left their occupation, Matthew; the tax collector left his job, Simon the Zealot left his militant call and there were six other men of various occupations that were interested enough in Jesus to follow him.
The men who created this “group” intended to find out more about the person of Jesus. This action is what a social network is all about. A unified effort, a grouping, to discover more.
This one word, discussion, can explain a social network and at the same time, it can define what Jesus Christ was all about. In the New Testament, there are many occasions where Jesus engaged others in discussion, asked their opinions and allowed them to share their thoughts and ideas. On one occasion, there arose a discussion as to what people were saying about Jesus. Jesus turned to the disciples and asked, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
Some people may think that social networking is about Facebook, Twitter, websites, and blogs. These resources certainly have the ability to engage, converse, and respond but this type of behavior was being practiced by Jesus long before the invention of the computer, internet and website technology. The Kingdom of God is built upon the principle of connecting with those who do not know about Jesus and the sharing of the Gospel. This behavior is not to reduce Christ to a modern-day term. It is to elevate our understanding of God’s desire to communicate with mankind.