Are you a team player?

Teamwork is something that we see talked about everywhere… every office has team “bonding” exercises or activities, sports teams strive to hone their abilities as a team so they can function together and achieve their task more efficiently.

Nothing is more mesmerizing than great teamwork displayed at an athletic event. I immediately think of the FIFA world cup where 11 players work together to move a soccer ball down a huge field past a different set of 11 players to put it in the net. Each player has their own particular role… but none can be done without. Some players serve defensive purposes to “back-up” their offensive players and provide their goalkeeper support. Other players are running the majority of the field gaining possession of the ball and passing it forward so the shooters can shoot. If a role is missing or falls short then the whole team is hurt or at a disadvantage. What good is a shooter without a goalie to keep the other team from scoring? Margaret Carty says,

The nice thing about teamwork is that you always have others on your side.

No person is expendable. No job within a team is useless.

A team is a group that works together to achieve a common goal or project. Meaning that a team player is someone who understands that they are part of the group and is willing to do his or her part for the betterment of the team as a whole. A team player does not seek to be a one-man show, but works together with their teammates and relies on their skills and abilities as well as their own as they work together.

What we often fail to neglect is that the church of Christ is a team… and being a team takes intentional work and developing to function together well. All too frequently we have situations where a select few people are either trying to do all, or most of, the work or are stuck doing it because of a lack of cooperation from others.

From a biblical standpoint, teamwork means sharing in the biblical responsibilities based on biblical goals, values, priorities, giftedness, training, and God’s leading.

When thinking about teamwork my thoughts are often drawn to the fact that during Jesus’ earthly ministry He even assembled a team of sorts. The team that Jesus assembled learned from Him, lived beside Him in unity, and was eventually raised to be spiritual leaders and missionaries to the early world. Without the work of the team Jesus built the early church may have never gotten off the ground! It is because of solid teamwork and the will of Christ that we have examples of how to worship today.

So, when thinking about teamwork and the church the question most of us end up asking ourselves is, “why should we strive to be team players within the church?” If we are already successfully juggling 29 different tasks why should we give something up to someone else and lose control?

Below I will provide a few reasons to work towards being a better team player.

  • It develops new leaders.

As leaders we should have the desire to raise up new leaders from among our congregations. It is through shared responsibilities that we discover the talents of others. Many of us might have the fear of being replaced or training ourselves “out of a job” and to be completely honest that is a selfish fear that Satan instills within us to prevent us from mentoring those the Lord puts around us. The body of Christ can benefit greatly if those within its walls with gifts were utilized effectively. Too many of us get so caught up in doing everything that we stifle out other’s ability to serve.

We need to understand that we don’t always have to be in charge… what is God calling you to give up? Control can become a master as well and many of us serve it everyday.

  • It teaches us humility and camaraderie.

Psalm 133:1 says,

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

No statement rings truer and speaks higher of teamwork. A true team lives in unity because they are united together and behind a single goal. What better fellowship? Then promote teamwork.

Also, learning to be a team player directly combats individual pride. It does well to remind us that this isn’t “OUR” work… it is the Lord’s work. We aren’t building “OUR” kingdom or the kingdom of “OUR” church… but rather we are building the Lord’s kingdom.

Guess what? People can do certain things better than us individually… why do we not let them?

A sense of teamwork improves communication and understanding between the members of the body, which also can cut down on frustration. With more people understanding what is happening and being directly involved with ministries the more invested your congregation is going to feel.

  • It allows us to look ahead and reach our full potential.

How many times are we are so focused on the short term that we completely neglect and miss out on the long term? We should be in the business of mentoring and making disciples that can impact this world for Christ. By promoting teamwork we are able to concentrate on the greater obligations of our responsibilities and perform tasks better and more efficiently. Our perceived “unachievable” goals will suddenly be more achievable than we ever would have imagined.

Many hands make light work. -John Heywood

  • It prevents burnout.

Is the load getting too heavy? Well… share it. We have to know how much we can handle and dedicate ourselves to not overdoing ourselves and settling with mediocre work. We have to imagine ourselves in a buffet line with only so much room on our plate. In order to add something we are going to have to take something off or our plate is going to run over and create a mess. The only way to tackle a buffet is with more than one plate… hand the people around you plates and let them dig in!

  • It utilizes the gifts of others.

My last point is one that most of us can probably understand…

How frustrating is it to be in a situation when you see areas in a ministry that you know can be improved upon or that are being ignored but yet nobody will “tag you in” and let you have a turn. What about when you have particular gifts or talents that aren’t being utilized at all… How do those situations make you feel? Now let’s think about our congregations. We have many talented people in our midst and the majority of them aren’t being used, or feel as if there isn’t “room” for them within our ministries.

Want people to get connected and stay connected? Use them. Let them serve.

Teamwork provides the sense that “I belong and am and important part of the body of Christ.”

In closing I want to provide an quote from Jin Kwon. It says,

One piece of log creates a small fire, adequate to warm you up, add just a few more pieces to blast an immense bonfire, large enough to warm up your entire circle of friends; needless to say that individuality counts but team work dynamites.

Let’s dedicate ourselves to not settling for a small fire that gives us a warm “feeling,” but rather let’s strive to include others and allow their passions and “fire” to build upon each others and create an immense bonfire that consumes all that is around it.

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