Over the years I’ve coached many sports teams and been blessed with having many athletically gifted individuals on them. Usually, I had a relatively easy time teaching these gifted athletes systems and strategies, but a more difficult time guiding them to play as a team. In fact, in my experience I have often found that the better the individual player, the more they seemed to find it difficult to function on a team as they seemed to rely less and place less value on teamwork. Consequently, it can be difficult for a star player to avoid putting themselves above the rest of the team. In individual sports, the player’s success is most often directly dependent on their own abilities and performance; but with team sports, the success is largely dependent on the team’s ability to function as a cohesive unit. The key, therefore, is how the individuals work together towards the common goal. There are numerous examples of teams that had the more talented individuals but were beaten by a team that functioned much better as a team. Individualism, pride, and selfishness are just a few temptations that can hinder a team’s success.
Jesus instructed everyone, especially star players, to lay aside pride and to live to serve others. The Apostle Paul also understood the value of working effectively with others. He emphasized teamwork because he knew that we could only reach our goals through mutual effort. In his letter to the Philippian church, he passed on this advice: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4). Paul pointedly addressed this destructive attitude- selfishness- which is often implied by the question, “What’s in it for me?” or the phrase, “it’s all about me,” and instructs us to have humility. That said, the words “not only” are important, as he is saying that we can look after our own interests and at our own gifts and accomplishments, but that we should also look to the interests, gifts, and accomplishments of others. Understood this way, individuals can certainly strive to be their best and improve their personal performance, but this must be done in combination with encouraging and helping others to improve and be their best. If a team is made up of individuals who do this, they will perform at their highest level.
I’ve been blessed in just the first few months to already serve on and with many teams at GCCS, including the leadership team, the staff, the Board of Directors, the Project Legacy Committee, the Hospitality and Promotions committees, the Finance Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee, the Human Resources Committee, and a Scholarship Ad Hoc Committee. Even in such a short time together I’ve already seen clearly how all these teams are comprised of very talented and dedicated individuals who are contributing their best. They are also working hard to function as a team by putting God first and seeking to see, this, His school, flourish. This has me excited to see how our teamwork with God’s continued provision, will continue to lead to renewal, growth, and flourishing in the remainder of this year and into the future!