“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.”
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of team and how it relates to the church body in general and occupational ministry specifically. It seems like “team” is a popular buzz-word in many ministry circles lately, but it appears to mean different things to different people. I think if God were to use the word team to describe a group of people doing ministry together then perhaps the above verses from Philippians would be how He would do it. If you’re familiar with the passage, you know it goes on to say we should have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus! God’s call is for us to voluntarily give ourself up for the sake of the team, not have the team give us up for their sake — there is a huge difference between those two things.
I’ve been blessed these past six months to work with a group of people doing ministry together that overall seems to get this team concept. I noticed a while back, as an event was conducted quite successfully, that those leading were very quick to give credit to all who had a part in the event. It made me think that perhaps that is a good definition, or sign, of a genuine team — a deliberate effort to give credit to all who do the work.
On the other hand, I’ve also been part of a ministry group that liked to use the word team to describe the staff but it didn’t feel anything like this. In fact, the word team wasn’t used as a vehicle for giving credit rather it became a means for taking credit! The “lower ranking” members of the “team” were to do the work while the “higher ranking” members took all the credit. This attitude seems to miss the entire point of the Philippians passage as Jesus, the highest ranking person of all, sacrificed everything in order that the lowest of all would receive honor.
Do you suspect you might be part of a team that really isn’t a team at all? First, examine your role on the team. Are you focused on giving credit or taking it? Perhaps the team member that needs to change is you! When, and only when, your attitude is the same as that of Christ Jesus, look at the leadership of the “team”. Are they seeking to give credit to others or take the credit for themselves? How would God have you be the light and example in that setting? Sometimes it is very difficult to remember that God calls us to live faithfully regardless of how right or wrong the people over you, around you, or under you happen to be.
A team that works is really only possible when it is fully surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in everything. I don’t know who said it first but I’ve heard it often, “It is incredible what God can accomplish through a group of people when that group of people is not concerned about who gets the credit.”
I pray that the Deer Run team that I work with will always live and act as a real team and that you also would make every effort, wherever you are, to be a part of a team that works as you focus on giving credit to each one who does their part.