The hardest thing to learn is what you think you already know, right?
Pain is a faithful instructor…
I read some years ago that the product of a team and the product of individuals aren’t the same. I’ve come to believe / realize the truth in this. Here’s the story that drove it home like no other. It was 2005 and I’d just returned from an extreme missions training pilot course. My mind was being brought into the light of teamwork in ways I thought I already knew.
I’ll spare you the gore of the incident, but I came face to face with a deception in my own life. Since very young, I was thrust into leadership. Some of the thrusting was my own doing, some was that of others.
Because I’d been routinely in leadership, I mistook this (somehow) for knowing how to be a good teammate. It seems strange now, as the two clearly aren’t the same thing. What I knew was how to be in charge.
It took a little drama to wake me from my stupor.
After the drama of team clash and proof beyond doubt that I knew how to wrestle people into submission, in a way that reminded me of my broken and abusive predecessors, I saw a light.
The Lord was teaching me something new, and reinforcing it in ways I would not forget.
At this point, I began to realize and see that teamwork was (and is) voluntary. It’s something we have to choose. I decided I’d read whatever I could find about teams from a ministry perspective when I returned.
My search was of insignificant yield. Most of what I found is how to build teams that you will be in charge of. This was exactly what I was trying to grow beyond!!
Finally I found a book called “Teams at the Top”. I was excited. I ordered it right away and awaited its arrival. When it came, I sat down immediately and dove right in! In the early (maybe the first) pages, I found, and I quote, “There are no teams at the top…”
I was deflated, but I kept reading. What I came to understand from this book and my experiences is that teamwork is hard, it’s risky, and people often choose not to go that route.
Part of what I felt like the Lord was showing me was from the lives of Barnabas and Saul and how they chose the work together, even tho they didn’t “need each other” to have a significant contribution. Peter and John are another example. How about Paul and Silas?
I remembered something I’d read about apostolic ministry, and how it is never solo, always a team.
After all, the scriptures are clear that two are better than one. Why? Because of their increased fruitfulness. The promise of teamwork is real and significant, even tho we can see why many prefer to remain “in charge” versus submit to collaboration.
Over the ensuing years I’ve continued to study and attempt to deepen my understanding on this important subject. Here are a few of the things I’ve come to believe that teamwork, it’s differentiated product, and it’s promise of fruitfulness require:
Some Keys to Collaborating
- Seeing value in multiple perspectives
- Realizing significance is a team sport
- Looking for the greater good
- Communication, planning and preparation
- Willingness to put aside personal preference
- Seeing your contribution as a part of the whole (parts exist in contemplation of the whole – Drucker)
- Putting ego and ambition aside
The promise of teamwork, especially the collaboration of people that are significant in their own right, is compelling! We can multiply our fruitfulness by ten fold. But it comes at a price, and there are no guarantees.
If you choose to work with others, and to embrace the vulnerability that will be necessary to any real connection, you’ll be choosing a more difficult path than “soloing”. But it’s worthwhile.
I think there is something yet to understand about God – Father, Son and Holy Ghost – in terms of mutual contribution and collaboration. Help us, Lord, to know this more.
I’ll leave you with this quote, and to your ruminations.
Nothing is impossible if you don’t care who gets the credit- Truman?
Onward, to conquer the impossible!