Remember how Aphrodite gets struck by an arrow and Zeus says, who cares, you’ll never die anyway? And then when people get killed, throughout the book, Homer makes a big deal about it, and goes back to the person’s childhood and through their life. It’s because there is no virtue in living unless that life is vulnerable.
I immediately see a career parallel, of course. You cannot connect with people if you cannot show them where you’re weak. People don’t have a capacity to care about someone who is not vulnerable. So there is no point in networking with people you won’t connect enough with to show a weak side of yourself. John McCoy / Penelope Trunk (Emphasis Mine)
Penelope writes brazenly about careerism (see what I did there?), and does a great job at it. For her readership, she provides some very cut-and-dry advice in a world of people who are generally fickle. This particular post's point is that "networking means making real friends". I completely agree with this. I'm admittedly not super at this -- I've made many surface-level friends in my life, but the deep, personal, reliable friendships are few and far between. Perhaps I'm not a fantastic networker?
This is just an appetizer, though. I didn't spend more than a few minutes thinking about Plato because I immediately thought about Christ. He spent His entire mortal existence exemplifying vulnerability while also exemplifying strength. 1 Let me take this in a parallel direction: Following Christ means making real disciples. I don't think you can do that without being vulnerable. If Christ is our model, let us "be Holy as he is Holy" and whatever comes along with it.
Each year, 2-3 dozen of the men from my church head to Camp Berea for Man Camp 2. During one of the afternoon session times, we skip out on the mini-sessions and meet as a men's group to talk about a topic that's on our hearts and minds at the time. Man Camp was my gig this year, and so I had spent the hours leading up to this conversation a smidge panicked about what we should talk about. The Spirit stepped in and assuaged it all. Between the messages from this year's lead speaker, Paul Friesen, and just asking the group what was grabbing at them throughout the weekend, we had a very long and very deep conversation about accountability and the need for accountability relationships between the men of the church. For 90 minutes we discussed weakness, accountability, trust, the need for partnership, the need for us to live alongside one another and all of the ramifications of living life together as Christians. It was a fantastic result of the weekend.
Without trust and vulnerability, an accountability relationship has little effect. Friesen said "there are Denny's groups and accountability groups". We need to invest in the latter, and that's what we're pushing the men of the church to do now. God was glorified during that 90 minutes together, and the conversations and partnerships that are coming about as a result continue to do so.
Going back to Penelope's statement, though, I really think she's onto something. Peter's relationship with Jesus jumps out to me here. Peter strikes me as a total hothead and the kind of gruff guy you didn't want to piss off (or, you know, he might just cut off your ear3). He was quick to act courageously and just as quick to become discouraged.4 His relationship with Christ was deep, personal and vulnerable, though, and that vulnerability led to deep blessings5 and a mission that began the spread of Christianity in the first century.6
Without that vulnerability, without the trust that his vulnerability would lead to deep blessings, Satan's request to sift Peter like wheat might have been met with denial. He may not have been ready to be tested. But he put himself out there, and trusted in Christ completely (except when trying to walk on water, I suppose) and had his life changed as a result. Personal accountability is like this, only dryer. We open ourselves up to another believer who trusts us and trusts Christ. The risks seem huge: betrayal (you might pick a Judas), judgement (you might pick a Pharisee) or the loss of trust. You might, though, change your life. Satan will ask to sift you like wheat, and with a brother in Christ and Christ to walk beside you, to live life with you, to pray for you, your sifting is bound to remove impurities and flat out change your life.
I could turn this right back around to careerism here. You need to show vulnerability and strength in your real friendships because all friends need both at some given time. That's not my bailiwick, so I'll leave that to her. ↩
Man Camp is a fairly atypical men's retreat, based on much of my previous retreat experience. While we spend 11-14 hours between Friday and Sunday in the Word of God and the topics that the speaker(s) bring, we spend almost all of the rest of the time in recreation, relaxation and consumption of vast quantities of food. There's no hand-holding, no crafts and no organized crying. (There are some bad men's retreats out there...) Many of the men of the church look forward to this event every year. November can't come quickly enough. ↩
EDITED on 1/2/13: I had said when this was published that the Bible did not say it was Peter that cuts off the ear of the high priest's servant, but it was. I was reading Matthew and Luke and had ignored John 18:10-11 which clearly says it does. Totally my bad. ↩