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Building Your Tribe

There’s been a lot of talk in social media about building your tribe.

Social media may be a current trend, but building a tribe? Tribes have been around for years. If we want to know how to build a tribe, shouldn’t we defer to the experts?

Journey with me as I fall back on personal experience. As a missionary of 20 years, I’ve had the privilege of watching how a tribal chief in the Amazon jungle kept his tribe intact, how he wooed people to follow his lead, and how he caused them to want to listen. Let’s learn by example.

He listened. 

Our tribal chief spent a good part of every day socializing with the villagers, discovering their needs and wants, and making them feel valued. He wasn’t just a leader, but a friend. He knew how to talk—but he also knew how to listen.

He persevered.

There were the “renegades” of the village. When the villagers went to cut gardens, the renegades made boats. When the villagers were roofing a house, the renegades were cutting gardens. When the whole village built boats together, the renegades would be roofing a house. The renegades made it clear they were never really going to be part of the tribe. Our tribal chief knew not to waste his breath with them; he knew not to be consumed by their opposition. He persevered.

He earned the right to be heard.

By genuinely caring. Our tribal chief didn’t just say he cared. He showed he cared. He looked out for the good of the people. He protected them.

By giving. The widows and fatherless of the tribe knew they had an advocate in their chief. They knew he would find ways to be sure they were provided for. Many times that meant he was at my door seeking “donations,” but what better reason can you give than looking after the widows and the fatherless? 

He earned the right to be heard through caring and giving.

His message was relevant.

When he did spoke, his message was relevant because he knew…

…the issues of his tribe…

…the needs of his tribe…

…and the heart of his tribe.

Doesn’t that sound like everything we’ve heard over and over again?

●  We need to listen.

●  We need to earn the right to be heard.

●  We need to give something back.

●  We need to have a relevant message.

●  And we need to persevere, to press on.

There really is nothing new under the sun. 

Isn’t it kind of cool that, in our technologically advanced society, we can still learn from those living without electricity, without running water, and with limited access to the outside world?

What type of tribal chief are we emulating?

●  Are we listening?

●  Are we caring about others?

●  Are we giving back to others?

●  Are we earning the right to be heard?

●  Are we giving a relevant message?

●  And are we pressing on?

Any thoughts to share? Practical tips? Personal experiences with this? I would love to hear!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosie Cochran

I am a pastor’s wife, former missionary, mother of four great sons, and author of three books: Betrayed, Identity Revealed, and A Murder Unseen. (Available at: Amazon.com.) I have a passion for God, my family, and writing! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Have a question? Email Me!

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  1. March 14, 2012 at 9:17 am

    What a wonderful analogy! Hope we can apply it to our lives. Thank you for sharing this.

    • March 14, 2012 at 10:04 am

      Glad you enjoyed the analogy. With my background, it’s pretty much where my mind went when I started hearing all this talk about building a tribe. 🙂

  2. March 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I think our “chiefs” could stand to read this post (those guys in Washington)! I think I’m being pretty good about all my stuff, mostly. And I try to ignore the renegades – some of those people will never come around, they just don’t get it.

    • March 14, 2012 at 9:51 am

      Yes, Karen, you’re pretty good with your stuff. 🙂 That old chief of ours had it right. He didn’t sweat the opposition, but concentrated on looking after those who were following his lead! Keep being “good with your stuff” for those of us who are reading what you write. 🙂

  3. March 14, 2012 at 10:32 am

    What a wonderful post. This concept is relevant to so much more than social media. Wouldn’t it be great to see it in action as a way of life around the world? Thanks Rosie for bringing such good things to light. ~Janet~

    • March 14, 2012 at 11:58 am

      Good point, Janet! Social media. Life in general. Very intertwined! 🙂

  4. March 14, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Great stuff Rosie! Thank you! I RT’d it!

    • March 14, 2012 at 11:59 am

      Thanks for the tweet on it, Holly! Good to hear you liked it.

  5. ontheplumtree
    March 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I love this post, Rosie. This is exactly the sort of development work I believe in, from the grass-root up, with respect, listening, caring and seeing the best in others.

    • March 14, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      Social media is all about relationships. And yes, they need to begin with all those things you said!

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