Gail Rodgers Sharing the Journey

Church Leadership Untangling the Team

Sarah had joined the team with such great anticipation! Here were like minded people who had the same vision as she had and the same passion to accomplish the goal! Each one brought a different skill set, different strengths to the table and the future was promising! “We can do it”, they had all said enthusiastically!

Today in the meeting all that team vision seemed so illusive. Petty arguments and harsh words had surfaced. Personalities seemed to grate on one another like sandpaper. Sarah’s heart was heavy. So much was at stake. The goal could be completely missed if the team sabotaged themselves with their own irritations. “How did we get here from such a great beginning”, she wondered?

Teams are exciting to join! We come together with a common goal and we each bring our own set of strengths and gifts to the table. Some teams have glorious stories! Others disintegrate in the process and new team members must come alongside and help rejuvenate the task. Most of us are a part of a team somewhere; a business or work team, a marriage or family team, a church or ministry team, a volunteer team or a political or sports team. Teams exist as part of our society. And teams tend to get tangled.

As Christians, the roles we play as team members look a bit different than what the leadership books of the day proclaim. God gives us some very specific instructions that, when applied to a team, will bring incredible and amazing results. God results. It is simply employing the God factor in our everyday encounters with our teammates.

When we come to the team table we come with our list of strengths and gifts. Seldom do we talk about the fact that each of us will also sit at that team table with our weaknesses thoroughly intact. Very often our greatest weakness is simply our greatest strength out of balance. And little things begin to grate on one another.

God tells us, through Paul’s letter in the book of Galatians and addressed to Christians, that we will encounter wrong doing in each other and in ourselves. On a team someone may be too controlling, or procrastinate too often, or may even be downright dishonest. Paul says our general attitude should be one of restoring, or, as the original language implies, one of mending nets. A joint effort of finding the holes and mending them. I find it significant that Paul talked as though this restoring process was something to expect, something we need not be surprised at. Something to perhaps even plan for.

Imagine sitting down with a new team and feeling the excitement of the task after the passionate sharing of the goal and the welcome of all the team members with their list of past accomplishments. Imagine your surprise when the team leader begins to talk about the fact that each team member will have weakness too. That you will irritate one another and that there may be holes in your skill sets or in the team. You begin to feel uncomfortable, afraid you might not measure up in some way. But then the leader continues and says, “We will have a restoring or mending mindset on this team. We will be proactive in taking steps to maintain our team. And here’s how we will do it.”

The team leader would then present these steps, outlined in Galatians 6.

Step 1: Prayer

We will pray for each other in our weaknesses. When you see a weak area, or an area that irritates you in your teammate, first pray about it asking God to become that person’s strength in that weakness. We will talk first to our God and not to the next teammate. When I see a weakness in you, and you see one in me, our first job will be to carry it in prayer. “Carry each other’s burdens (or weaknesses), and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galations 6:2 Weaknesses are the very entry point for God’s strength! “Jesus said, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 This attitude of restoring and mending is fulfillment of God’s ways.

Step 2: Accountability

Be accountable for what is going on inside you. Keep a check on your spirit. As you pray for another’s weakness be careful not to begin seeing yourself as superior. Don’t play the comparison game. God tells us to test our own actions to be sure we are not deceiving ourselves in any area. In humility, guard your own heart. “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.” Galations 6:3-4a

Step 3: Responsibility

Take responsibility for your own weaknesses. Never excuse your own weaknesses or “holes in the net” by saying, “that’s just the way I am, I can’t help it”! Be honest with yourself and invite God into your weak areas. Do what you need to do to take the responsibility that is yours. “...each one should carry his own load.” Galations 6:4b

Step 4: Building up

Encourage each other with Scripture. Build each other up in God’s ways. “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.” Galations 6:6. Sharing what we learn from God will help us keep our focus on God’s way of doing things as a team. Praying together is also one of the best ways to knit hearts in unity. If an issue remains that needs to be talked out, go in love to your team mate and with the attitude of building up. Be open if someone comes to you about your weakness.

Step 5: Choosing

Regularly make the choice to do things God’s way. It isn’t always comfortable to deal with another’s weaknesses God’s way…our own emotions often get in the way. Neither is it always comfortable to look our own weaknesses square on and invite God to change us and be our strength. But God invites us to make each relational decision in accordance with His Spirit and promises a harvest in the proper time. These decisions, made in the face of the sandpaper edge of irritation, will bring a result. “...The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galations 6:7-9
Choose what kind of harvest you want on your team.

Step 6: Blessing

Bless one another as often as you have opportunity. Affirm each other, do good to each other, speak well of one another. Look for opportunities to touch each other’s lives in a positive way. “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”.  Galations 6:10

Think of the opportunity for growth together on any team, from marriage to marketing, if the team approach held these simple steps for dealing with our weaknesses.

Much is written and taught on team strength. Team weakness is less acknowledged but plays an even greater role than do the strengths, for it is all too often the little things that grate on one another and become the source of eventual dispute or even demise.

Look at your marriage or your team position through God’s eyes and begin to employ His way. Model it, share it, lean hard on God for it. As God’s strength in weakness is applied in these ways He becomes the team’s Source. The results will amaze you and will bring glory to our God who is the only one that can truly “mend the holes in any net”!

Be proactive with your team and introduce God’s strategy. A team need not get tangled!