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Shawn Manaher is my guest this week, as we discuss his contribution to my 2-book set “Entrepreneur Mind Hacks”.  Shawn has some golden nuggets regarding the power of good connections to share with us, and advice on how to avoid totally messing them up!

Let’s start with the basics: What are networking & business connections?

According to Shawn, networking connections are simply making and building relationships related to whatever you want to build.  So, in this context were talking about networking for the purpose of building business.  Think of it more as a relationship more than just an activity – getting to know one another.  Often times, those that are in the “online space” make the mistake of thinking that networking is just like online.  However, all networking should actually be approached in more of an “offline” approach, in that getting to know one another and establishing a relationship should be paramount.  Once you know and understand what each other’s strengths, weaknesses, services and needs are, then the mutual benefit of the connection will naturally surface.

When Shawn goes into a networking, or into any kind of connection, relationship he understands that there’s a give-and-take in the relationship.  This practically works itself out by having a certain set of strengths and services connected with the person he has networked with so that when Shawn meets someone else who needs that service, he instantly will connect the two people and see their business grow, while fulfilling the need of the other person.  Then, as the relationships grow and become more and more reciprocal, everybody within the network wins!

You see, as Shawn puts it, your business growth and your business potential is only as strong as your ability and the strength of your network.  Now, he is the first to admit that this truth didn’t sit easy with him at first.  Shawn didn’t like that the idea that success really is about who you know not what you do.

Yet, as Shawn connected with and became friends with people such as Chris Dreyer from Attorney Rankings, he realized that now, either one of them would be willing to drop everything to help one another succeed – all because each of them have given to one another without expectation.  So, in building his networking circles, Shawn has come to understand both who he has connected with, as well as where their mutual benefits reside.

Now, it’s a hard truth that some people are going to be more takers than givers.  But if you find a core group of people that are willing to give, and you’re willing to give, and there’s that mutual respect and connection across the board… then, those people become your inner networking circle.

One of the most valuable lessons Shawn has ever learned came to him the hard way:

If you’re going to network, then you need to constantly connect with the people you are networking with.

Since learning this incredibly valuable lesson, Shawn is much more organized and almost always has a plan in place before meeting somebody.  He puts them in an email database.  He follows up with them on a regular basis so that he is connecting with them in a meaningful way.  Ultimately, the purpose of networking is not just to accumulate a list of names that you know, but to help build each other’s business efforts to new levels.

But to achieve this, Shawn needed to come up with and organize an effective system.

At one point, Shawn was going to a lot of business networking events.  He was mostly going to open networking events where he would basically meet with anybody and connect with anybody.  But, then he learned about closed networking events. At these events, instead of focusing on meeting 100 different people at each event, taking part in short conversations amounting to very little meaningful give and take, he decided to go into a closed networking group.

There, Shawn worked on building relationships with a select few individuals particularly interested in building each other’s businesses in a mutually beneficial way.

Image: Grapevine Networking

Image: Grapevine Networking

Typically a closed network would be a group of about twelve like-minded businesspeople that Shawn will see fairly regularly – on a monthly basis, he meets with two or three of those individuals face-to-face, one-on-one for about 30-45 minutes.  He gets to know their businesses they get to know Shawn’s.  And then, through that one-to-one connection, each of the people are able to refer business at a higher rate and a much more successful rate for one another because they actually know each other.

Among his other efforts, Shawn has begun Sidepreneurs (sidepreneurs.com).  This innovative pool of resources, podcast, and connection site  is all about helping individuals launch their side-businesses and graduate into full-time entrepreneurship!  Shawn offers mentorship which comes out of his own experience, as well as his network.  The result has been the building of a community of like-minded individuals who are focused on building their side businesses and helping one another achieve those goals.

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Christian bible teaching about Jesus Christ, scripture, becoming a mature Christian, discipleship, and the truth about God.

I often hear well-meaning Christian parents say the following, “I don’t want to force God on my child.  I want them to make their own decisions and create their own relationship with God.”

I agree that an overbearing, hypocritical, legalistic way of parenting is just wrong, but let me challenge you with a different perspective:

If it’s important to actively train our kids in matters of personal hygiene (brushing their teeth), education (attend and do their best in school), manners (say “please” and “thank you”), or even sports (play hard and play fair)…

Then, if we are going to be consistent, why is there even a question as to whether or not to mentor and train your children in Christ?

So assuming that you have made the wise decision to train and equip your children in their spiritual walk, you need to know that there are essentially three stages of discipleship:  Mimicking, Repeating, then Understanding.

  1.  Mimicking (2-4 year olds)praying with girl

It’s what every toddler does when they learn to speak… and how to pray and recite scripture as well.  They simply repeat what you say and do.  Now, just because they don’t fully understand what they are doing does not take away from the truth in what you are teaching them.  You have an amazing opportunity here to teach them, through your own intentional behaviors that God is the GREATEST THING EVER! That Jesus Christ is the greatest man who ever lived.  They see these truths written on your face as you talk about God, as you pray with them, or when you cuddle with them out under the stars, showing them all that God has made.  Even at an early age, they begin to mimic you and your appreciation of God’s truths.

  1.  Repeating (Kindergarten – Junior High)Youth-Group

Unfortunately, too many Christian kids learn right and wrong due to consequences and the do’s and don’ts become the end-all.  They learn not to lie because if they do, they get a mouthful of soap.  They learn not to steal something because if they do, they will be grounded. While discipline and consequences are important, though, their instruction in what it means to live like Jesus can’t end there.  Instead, while they are learning what the rules are, they also need to be developing in such a way to understand the spiritual truths and reasons behind these rules.  Remember – you, as a parent, are the first and primary example and representative of God and His Word.  Statistics show that 60-80% of young adults drop out of the Christian faith after leaving high school because they have been successfully taught the rules of Christian living, without any spiritual understanding of why those rules are in place for them.  Which leads us to the third phase of discipling your kids…

  1.  Independent UnderstandingStudy Group

It’s key to not just follow God’s will for our lives, but to spiritually understand why God’s rules are in place and how they can continue to grow in their walk with Christ on their own.  it’s an unfolding process, but one that doesn’t happen without the preceding developmental phases.

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There is a lot of misunderstanding about the term “discipleship”. The word “disciple” is used 297 times throughout the New Testament. The word “Christian” is used three times. According to these numbers, we should be receiving about 1,000 times more teaching about being a disciple of Christ compared to being “Christian”.

How does this fit into the type of teachings that you are receiving at your church?

Jesus, of course, is the first one to use the word “disciple” in the New Testament when He called his disciples. He calls them, invites them, prompts them, challenges them, and tells them to follow Him.

To Peter, He says, “Follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men.” To Matthew, He simply says, “Follow Me.”

And, to YOU, He is also saying, “Follow Me.”

You have a choice. Will you follow Him, or follow your own way? It is a clear crossroads in your life at this moment, and each day.

“Discipleship” actually has its roots in the Old Testament when men and women were called by God to follow Him and obey Him. All the followers of God in the Old Testament were disciples of God, as were followers in the New Testament, and all the followers throughout Church history and into today. These are disciples of the Lord.

You, if you are a disciple of Jesus, are in great company. This great group of followers is often referred to as the Great Cloud of Witnesses – all the disciples that came before you are included in that group.

The term “disciple” means a dedicated follower, a committed learner, an applied apprentice. A disciple of Christ diligently follows, learns, and gains knowledge and skills that God indicates are important. Being a disciple of Christ implies interest, action, intention, commitment and moving forward. Being a disciple of Christ implies interesting work, engaging fun, stimulating your mind and your emotions, and being excited about the future as you grow in skills and wisdom. Being a disciple includes surrendering every part of yourself: body, mind, emotions, and spirit, to Christ.

Here’s an illustration: Picture yourself in the presence of someone very important, say a famous leader, speaker, musician or personality that you deeply admire. They come to visit you and want to show them something that is very important. They invite you to go with them and ask any questions you want. As they walk beside you, you would intently be right beside them, asking, listening, and talking with them.

What does this feel and look like?

Here’s a personal story to illustrate the point: I remember when I met and had the opportunity to spend a little time with a famous man. I read about who he was and he was such a visionary in my field, and had such great insights as a Christian. At first, I was like a little kid – I was intimidated, even scared by him. I was in awe that he was even there in front of me and was spending time with me. I had so many questions I wanted to ask him and I hung on every single word. I sat next to him, listening intently, asking a lot of questions. I took notes and tried to remember each word that he said so that I could remember them later. I was a follower, a learner, an apprentice.

Now, being a disciple of Jesus is a step beyond this previous illustration. It is vastly different than following any human man or woman.

We follow Christ because we want to be like Him, and we want to surrender to Him. To do this, we put Him in the driver’s seat of our life every moment of every day. He is now in control of who we are, to make us loving, merciful, gracious, powerful, strong, bold, wise, fun, balanced, and in the center of God’s plan. Those are all characteristics of Jesus and He wants them for us also.

Being a disciple also means you are unique. If you notice, each of the disciples in the Bible were very different. They each had different personalities, quirks, interests, strengths, and abilities – just like you have unique personality traits, gifts, strengths and weaknesses that make you who you are. And Jesus wants to mature and balance each of those uniquenesses to be wonderful.

Jesus brings these two facets together: He makes us like Himself, and shapes and uses our uniqueness. This is another way that the Christian faith is different from any other religion in the world.

So, why is dedication and commitment to being a disciple so important? Because being a disciple is a process – an ongoing process, not a finished product. Once a disciple – always a disciple: meaning, you will always be seeking, asking, knocking. As a result, you will be finding, learning, growing and maturing. You need full dedication and commitment to continue being a disciple of Jesus.

The key tools to being a disciple are very simple, and they are shown all throughout Scripture. A.S.K.: Ask, Seek, and Knock. Ask the Lord; Seek Him; Knock on the doors in front of you to gain entrance. Jesus will be your loving Guide.

The goal of being a disciple is to become what He intends you to be – in His image, walking with Him, building His kingdom. He wants you to be mature, fulfilled, balanced, strong, and bearing wonderful fruits of the Spirit. Which include: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

That’s a lot to aim for. That’s a great goal. But again, this takes time.

Just as it takes time to grow physically, from a child to an adult, it takes time to grow spiritually, from a new Christian to a mature Christian.

It is good to know what you are getting into. Is the risk / reward worth it? I would advocate: Yes it is.

What are the costs of a disciple? It costs everything.

You must surrender everything to Him. EVERYTHING. Nothing held back, open hands, no closed fists holding onto something. He wants it all.

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34) And He said, “Whoever does not pick up their cross and follow Me, cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27)

So, what are the benefits or rewards of being a disciple of Christ? The long-term rewards, beyond this life, are living eternally in a new heaven, a new earth, with a new body, seeing God and knowing Him directly. The immediate rewards, in our current lives, are endless and amazing: a passionate, productive, and purposeful life. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Abundance implies growth. There are many word pictures in the bible of disciples growing: moving from being blind to seeing; moving from milk to meat; moving from childhood to adulthood; moving from crawling to walking to running; moving from student to teacher. So, the question is: Are you moving in that type of positive direction?

We each need a discipler – someone who walks alongside us to help us grow. A discipler is there “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12-13)

For more about discipleship and spiritual growth, visit ToTheChurches.com.

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Call me a contrarian, but I LOVE Halloween.

And I, for one, am not prepared to concede this holy-day to the enemy. Here’s why:

Halloween is a contraction of two words, Hallows’ Eve.

“Hallows” (related to the word “holy”) is a reference to “saints” (having nothing to do with the Church conferring sainthood on dead people, but having everything to do with every one of us who loves, worships, and serves Jesus Christ). (See Ephesians 1:15 for but one example of the biblical usage of the word “saint.”)

“Eve,” of course, refers to evening, much as we use the word in reference to Christmas Eve.

Put it all together, and Halloween is in reality a “Holy Evening,” the night before “All Saints Day.”

Simply put, Halloween is the one night out of each year set aside for the dual purposes of (1) Identifying those precious saints of God, those committed Christ-followers who have had a significant, positive, and holy influence in our lives; and (2) Planning how we are going to honor them on the following day, November 1, All Saints Day.

This in the spirit of Romans 13:7, “Render to all men their dues… respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due” (Amplified Bible).

Think of it this way: We have days set aside to honor our Mothers, Fathers, Presidents, historical individuals like Columbus, Martin Luther King Jr., and others, our veterans, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice (Memorial Day), etc., etc.

All Saints Day is the one day out of each year to honor those who have encouraged us in our walks with Christ, including those who have…

Led us to faith in Christ,

Taught us His Word,

Set an example for us of godly living,

Encouraged us,

Prayed for us,

Counseled us,

Loved us,

Helped us along the way to take one more step in our spiritual journey,

Or perhaps the most important of all… Were there for us when no one else was.

Halloween is the night to identify these precious people, the unsung heroes of our personal faith, and to plan how best to honor them the very next day.

We can honor them in so many simple and yet oh-so-important ways:

A card, a letter, a note, a phone call, a text message, a Facebook post, an email message, a gift. Some sincere expression of what these dear people mean to us, and how these individuals have blessed our lives.

What a beautiful concept. More than that…

What a BEAUTIFUL DAY. All Saints Day. Preceded, as it is, with an equally beautiful evening. An evening devoted to identification and preparation. An evening called Hallows’ Eve!

So in the true spirit of this sacred holy-day, let me extend to each of you a heartfelt…

…HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! 

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I often hear well-meaning Christian parents say the following, “I don’t want to force God on my child.  I want them to make their own decisions and create their own relationship with God.”

I agree that an overbearing, ruthless, legalistic way of parenting is just wrong, but let me challenge you with a different perspective:

If it’s important to actively train our kids in matters of personal hygiene (brushing their teeth), education (attend and do their best in school), manners (say “please” and “thank you”), or even sports (play hard and play fair)…

Then, if we are going to be consistent, why is there even a question as to whether or not to mentor and train your children in Christ?

So assuming that you have made the wise decision to train and equip your children in their spiritual walk, you need to know that there are essentially three stages of discipleship:  Mimicking, Repeating, then Understanding.

     1.  Mimicking (2-4 year olds)

It’s what every toddler does when they learn to speak… and how to pray and recite scripture as well.  They simply repeat what you say and do.  Now, just because they don’t fully understand what they  are doing does not take away from the truth in what you are teaching them.

     2.  Repeating (Kindergarten – Junior High)

Unfortunately, too many Christian kids learn right and wrong due to consequences and the do’s and don’ts become the end-all.  In stead, while they are learning what the rules are, they also need to be developing in such a way to understand the spiritual truths and reasons behind these rules.  Remember – you, as a parent, are the first and primary example and representative of God and His Word.

     3.  Independent Understanding

It’s key to not just follow God’s will for our lives, but to spiritually understand why God’s rules are in place and how they can continue to grow in their walk with Christ on their own.

For more information about Matt’s ministry, check out www.RanchodelReyChurch.org

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e² media network™ offers weekly podcasts and programming featuring Christian Bible teaching about being a disciple of Jesus Christ, becoming a mature Christian and encouraging and equipping others in their pursuit of Godliness.
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