Over the past week, I have focused a lot of energy thinking about teamwork. Two things have brought about this mental exercise: First, our church, First Broad Street UMC (fbsumc.org) is in the midst of a vision update, and second, I have just finished a sermon series looking at the Olympics, of which, this past sermon focused on teamwork.
I asked in that sermon a question that cannot be downplayed: "Who Is On Your Team?" What I have found is that all of us have a team. That team can be people that are encouragers, people that challenge you and push you to be the best you can be, or that team can be people that drag you down, or maybe even worse, one can have a team of things; such as alcohol or drugs, or perhaps the one thing that is on most people's team; technology. Nonetheless, we all have a team.
I taught this morning that in order to have the right team, your team needs to be three things for you, and if your team is not these three things, you need to get another team.
First, your team needs to constantly encourage you. Paul talks about this in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 when he writes, “Encourage one another and build each other up.” This world is full of discouragement, and we need daily encouragement. We need it from Scripture, we need it from fellowship, we need it from the team that surrounds us. Without, you will never be able to move forward when times get tough.
Second, your team needs to push you to be your best. Its too easy to live your life from day to day, same old, same old. In fact, its sinful. As Christians, we have been called to become holy. Holiness in our lives is a lifelong pursuit that takes getting up everyday and deciding that today you are going to be a little more like Jesus than you were the day before. Yet, what's interesting, is the impossibility of that, but with the right team pushing you, you can become the best you possible- you can become the you that God wants you to be, the you you were made to be. Patrick Lencioni writes it this way in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, “Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal.”
Third, your team has to be willing to sacrifice for you. The olympics present some of the greatest moments of humanity. Stories like the two women helping each other finish, or stories like Larry Lemieux giving up a certain medal to ensure the safety of others. Most of these stories highlight what sacrifice looks like. What it looks like to become the best ideal of what humanity can and should be.
When you have a team in your life that is able to accomplish these three facets of teamwork, you have something that very few have, but everyone wants- whether they realize it or not. You have people that are willing to help you up when you have fallen, and it doesn't seem like completing your race is possible.
One of the greatest Olympic stories of all time is the story of Derek Redmond. One of the fastest humans in the world during the late '80s and early '90s, Redmond finally was healthy enough to compete in 1992 Summer Olympics in Spain. In the middle of the biggest race of his life, he pulls a muscle and falls down. He tries to stand but repeatedly falls, yet from somewhere he mustered the strength and courage to get up on one foot and try to finish. He can't. Medical personnel come to his aid, but he refuses, still hobbling along. Finally from the crowd, his father comes to his side, puts the weight on himself, and helps carry his son to the finish line, in the midst of thunderous applause. Click HERE for a short clip.
So, I ask: Who Is On Your Team?