As we begin our consideration of teams it’s worth spending a little while looking at the Bible to see what we can learn about people in this regard. Are people designed by God to exist and work in complete independence or, did he make mankind to be interdependent upon each other?
We read in Genesis 1: 26
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26
Here we learn that God declares that man was modelled on God and that was his intent. We should note that God considers himself to be plural – he says “let US make them in OUR image”. We know this to refer to his triune nature, the three distinct persons of the Trinity in one single God; a mystery to us. However, we do see the three persons of the Godhead existing together, communicating with each other and collaboratively functioning together, each performing their specific role in God’s economy. Mankind is made in that image.
We see also that God intended man to have dominion over the world, collectively, together – “let THEM have dominion….”
It should be no surprise then, when in Genesis 2 we discover that in order for his creation to be good the man, Adam, needs a helper. “It is not good”, God says, “for the man to be alone”. And so God provides a helper for him
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
And this was still while creation was perfect, before the rebelliousness of Adam brought about “The Fall” and God responded with “The Curse”
In an earlier lesson we also saw how Moses took on too much for himself and was advised by Jethro to share the load.
Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. Exodus 18:17&18
Man is both finite and quite limited in his abilities and capacity. However, God made us to live in cooperative community and equipped us with the skills required. Jethro advises Moses to share the load, to let go of being independent in attitude but live and work in interdependence with others.
Then writing to the Ephesians Paul explains how in Christ we are to be bound together and are to function as a body, in interdependence. In fact this cooperative, cohesive body is essential to a right relationship with Christ, the head of the body, and resultant spiritual growth.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15&16
Because Paul was the author of so many letters and the key player in much of the book of Acts, it’s natural to think of him as a lone hero, working independently to share the Gospel across the Roman Empire. However, a moment’s thought will remind us of how many people he had on his team, or perhaps we should say how many people were co-workers with him for Christ.
The final greetings of the letter to the Colossians are one example. Look how many people he refers to and how many people are his co-workers.
Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here. Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. Colossians 4:7-14
So we see that God made us not to be independent of others, a major weakness in western countries, but to exist with others in mutual interdependence. It’s clear that this interdependent nature was established by God in his creation and was one of the marks of its perfection. The fall spoiled that perfection but man is still made to live and work collaboratively, in relationship with others.
This is where teams come in to play. Because we are no longer in the perfection of creation, we must take active steps to live and work in effective interdependence. It takes effort to build a group into a team. The material we will look at in this lesson is intended to help us rise to this challenge, living out the character of Christ as Christ-centred servant leaders, leading the teams for whom we are responsible. As with the fire fighters in the illustration, in some situations teams are essential and with that the only path to a successful outcome is collaborative interdependence.
Before we look at teams in more detail it will be good to reflect on our experience of teams and what we think a team is about.
Take a Moment:
- What teams have you been on?
- What teams are you on?
- On a scale of 1 – 10, where 10 is excellent and 1 is extremely poor, how would you rate them on effectiveness
Take a Moment:
- How would you define a team?
- What do you think are the key characteristics of a team?