Mike was in a bad place. He was heartbroken after an arduous courtship. Everyone has a story of unrequited love, but Mike’s was unique in that the object of his affections wasn’t a person, but a church. He’d applied for a pastoral position and been rejected. I met Mike at this point in his life and remember how bummed out he was. Fortunately, in those very same days, Mike got a phone call from a fellow seminary student (and the hero of this article), Roger Korsten. 

“The thing is,” Mike told me over coffee, “I didn’t even know Roger at that time. Yet his phone call changed the trajectory of my life.”

The day Mike met Roger was a good day. It was the day he met a Connector.

What Is the Connector?

In Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without, Tom Rath says that the Connector is “a bridge builder who helps you get what you want.” How? By getting to know you and introducing you to others. Wikipedia calls them, “the social equivalent of a computer network hub. Connectors usually know people across an array of social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles.”

In Mike’s story, Roger was the Connector who knew about a job opening, learned about Mike, and gave him a call.  “I was in a dark place,” Mike confessed, “but Roger didn’t know about that. He’d heard good things about me and encouraged me to apply for the position.”

Tom Rath adds, “When you need something — a job, a doctor, a friend, or a date — a Connector points you in the right direction. Connectors are very social and use their connections to help others. They do many good things for many people.

But they can be hard to see.

Recognize the Connectors in Your Story

“Connectors aren’t primary characters,” Mike observed. “They’re like angels, playing supportive roles. Divine messengers. Ministering spirits.”

He’s right about that. Connectors look out for you, help you out, and hook you up. There are no strings attached, they don’t keep score, they don’t seek center stage or demand recognition. For these reasons, like angels of God, they’re easy to miss (Hebrews 13:2).

“It’s crazy how significant Roger’s role in my life was. Without his phone call, I don’t know of an opening at Corona Presbyterian Church, so I don’t apply. If I’m not there, how do I meet the legendary Five Iron Frenzy? And would there even be a Scum of the Earth Church?

Mike takes a sip of coffee and adds, “But what’s occurring to me right now is that I’ve never formally thanked Roger for his role in all that.”

“Why don’t you do it now?” I asked. And Mike picks up his phone and crafts this text:

“Hey Roger: I’m sitting here at Panera Bread Company with Steve Garcia talking about how important your phone call to me was in the autumn of 1994 (when we had never even met). Because I got hired at Corona, the whole trajectory of my life changed. I’ve never thanked you for calling me that day and asking me to apply for the Singles’ Pastor job. Thanks, Roger. You started a HUGE chapter in my story that continues to this day.”

It was a great moment. And it got even better.

Put a Spotlight on the Magic They Work 

A few minutes after he sent his text, Mike’s phone rang. It was Roger. We put him on speakerphone and entered a really magical moment, catching up about him, his family, and his new church in Raleigh, North Carolina. We talked about that phone call and his way of connecting people.

“That’s the way I’ve always been,” he said. “I’ve always looked around and wondered: ‘Is God doing something here? Let’s check it out.” When a congregant told me about her personal ministry, I thought, ‘How can we integrate this with the church? Would you like to share this with the church?’ I’m trying to be the connecting point and see who can come alongside and support her.”

I’m not wired like that. That’s not how I roll, but I’m in awe of how Roger does. He sees the need of one person and how meeting it can bring joy to another. “There are people who don’t dream up projects of their own but need to be part of something meaningful,” Roger explained. “If I can get people involved and find people who have the right gifts to make a connection and get things going, everybody wins.” 

Connectors don’t do what they do to be seen by the rest of us, but it’s a good thing to notice and be grateful, as Mike was.

And perhaps God can give all of us eyes to see what he’s up to and join in. With his help, we can all do the work of a Connector.

Takeaway Questions:

  1. Who has helped you along the way? 
  2. Who have you been able to help?
  3. How can you be an angel in someone’s life today?

Takeaway Actions:

  1. Call or text a Connector friend and say, “Thank you.”
  2. Make a list of those you’ve been able to help. Stop and savor your partnership with God.
  3. Use your current position and place to support someone’s vision.

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