Coach John Wooden, who coached high school and college sports for more than forty years and whose teams won more than 80% of their games, claims a key to success is team spirit. “Team spirit,” says Wooden in his book Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, “is a genuine consideration for others … an eagerness to sacrifice personal interests of glory for the welfare of all.”
For years, I believed that every person on ministry teams in which I participated, possessed the same gifts that I had and thought like me. I was completely wrong! Now I recognize that each of us is unique with God-given gifts. I have learned to really appreciate others on the team who are different from me. Interdependence and being considerate of others is a key to experiencing a healthy team spirit. We really do need each other.
Organizational researchers reserve the term “team” for groups that have high interdependence — each individual task is dependent on what other team members are doing at the same time.
Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people try to get what they want through their own efforts. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve the greatest success.
Interdependence requires us to be convinced that God has called each person to be a member of our team. Also we need to be aware that each one has something unique to offer the team (I Corinthians 12). Other people’s gifts and personalities bring wholeness to our team. When we understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we can build as a team, capitalizing on strengths and providing support where needed.
Good leaders learn to resource their weaknesses. In other words, we need to know how God has “wired us” so we do not try to become someone we are not. All of us need people on our team who are able to do many things much better than we do.
In his book Me, Myself, and Bob, Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales, tells the story of how Walt Disney and his brother Roy worked together as a team. Vischer describes how Walt was the dreamer and Roy the practical one in the partnership. Roy did not always like the great ideas of Walt, but he loved Walt and believed in him. Walt knew he couldn’t do what Roy did and Roy knew he couldn’t do what Walt did. So they submitted to each other’s area of expertise and worked together ultimately for the benefit of the ideas and the benefit of their audience.
If God has given you ideas for ministry, look for your “Roy.” Your Roy may be one person or several persons or even a whole board of directors. The relationship will work only if the people you bring together want to see your ideas succeed. If on the other hand, God has made you a Roy, look for your “Walt.” Look for someone with creative gifting and calling. To succeed, that person desperately needs you.
Jesus built strong team spirit among his disciples. In Luke 10, we read that Jesus sent out his disciples two by two and empowered them to do the works that He was already doing. Each disciple simply used his God-given gift.
I encourage you to tell your team members how much you appreciate them and the unique qualities and gifts they bring to the team. Then enjoy the journey of interdependence. Taste the blessing of team spirit!