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Article 35

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Teamwork

 

Teamwork happens when a group of individual people are brought together to achieve a common purpose or goal. The needs of the group become more important than the needs of the individual. So for team work to work efficiently, each person need to put aside their own individual needs so as to achieve the objective of the group. When the people in the group work with each other this is known as teamwork. 

Teamwork on display at a air show

For teams to work effectively, in other words, achieve the set goals they must make sure they follow some fundamental principles of teamwork: 

Cooperation with each other – set aside personal differences 

For a team to run smoothly the members musts work together in an effective manner. This means putting aside personal differences so that overall aim can be achieved. They need to cooperate and collaborate with each other. If there are conflicts then these need to be resolved by using principles as set out in the Bible. 

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?   James Ch.4:1 NIV 

Many people, including some believers of God, live only to make a good impression on others or maybe they live to just please themselves. This type of selfishness can cause problems when working in a group. Paul therefore encourages the believers to have spiritual unity with each other and then work as one for the main purpose. 

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.  Philippians Ch.2:3-4 

Believers need to work as a team, caring for the problems of others as though they were our own problems. With this Christ like attitude the team of God’s workers will experience unity. 

Cooperation with each other – two is better than one 

As we go through life we learn many things. In the same way, the believer, as he reads through the Bible, learns wisdom. He may take this wisdom and apply it in his own life so as to make his life more meaningful. However, the Bible says that he shouldn’t keep all this information to himself. 

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up.

But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes Ch.4:9-12 

The thought of the man without dependants toiling pointlessly, suggests the thought that "two are better than one". Don't keep all your gains for yourself—share, be a team man (or woman) and how much fuller your life will be! 

In the first century, it was a Jewish custom to travel in pairs, especially at night. To work in pairs is better, for they each can encourage and strengthen the other when they become downcast or depressed among strangers. Also one might take the glory to himself; and there might be a loss of love for the work through jealousy or dissension, as in the case of John Mark.

"Two are better than one" appeared to be the guideline for the work of the Apostles in the first century. Two disciples were sent to find the colt. Peter and John were sent to prepare the Passover and were later sent together to Samaria. Paul and Barnabas were sent by the Church to Antioch and later when they had their dissension, each took a companion. 

And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two,…   Mark Ch.6:7 

So teamwork was a vital part of the work of the apostles in the first century because of its numerous advantages. For this to work, it required cooperation between the two men. 

The members of the ski team are committed to the objective of reaching the top of the mountain.

Dedicated commitment to the objectives 

The members of the team need to give full participation to the objectives of the team. Everyone must feel that the goals are important and that they are fully committed to achieving them. Each member must understand that their contribution will be valuable to the team meeting its goals. 

God has given all believers an important responsibility of making disciples in all countries. 

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  Matthew Ch.28:18-20 

To achieve this objective involves preaching, teaching, nurturing, giving, administering and numerous other tasks. To try and achieve this objective by ourselves would be extremely difficult. But God has asked us to work as a team for he knows this is the best way to be successful.  

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 

Ephesians Ch.4:11-12   New Living Translation 

As a team each person has his own special abilities that he (or she) can offer. Some of us can do one task whereas someone else can do another task. Together the united team can serve God more effectively than the individual team members can alone. 

It is a human trait to overestimate what we can do as a individual and also to underestimate what can be done as a group. But as believers are part of the body of Christ, there is a lot more that can be achieved together than can ever be done alone. 

Dedicated commitment to the objectives – the example of Paul 

At the time when the apostle Paul was writing, ships were powered by sail and by oar. Some ships had two, even three banks of oars. These vessels were known as ‘biremes’ or ‘triremes’, but there was one ship called the ‘Syracusa’ which had twenty banks of oars—ten on each side. It was built for Gerone II of Syracuse, and was a fearsome structure with the capacity to transport a whole army of soldiers. Mathematicians have calculated that it needed two thousand men to pull the 800 oars. It is believed that the longest oar was 84 feet long, and needed at least four men to operate it! We can imagine what an impressive ship this was. Where do you think it was built? In Corinth in about 200 BC. 

Could it be that Paul knew about the building of this gargantuan slave-ship, and therefore used the analogy of the under-rower to describe to the Corinthians his own service, and theirs? The apostle was content to describe his own work as like that of one of the men at the bottom of a ship, operating his single oar. He knew that on his own he could only flail his oar uselessly in the sea. He stood no chance of moving the vessel on his own; he needed others to assist him. One man rowing on his own would be no use; two thousand rowing out of step would not be much better. But all two thousand pulling together would provide the necessary momentum and drive. Teamwork is what was needed. 

Paul was therefore an under-rower in his Master’s vessel. Christ is the captain of his and our salvation; he controls the vessel’s speed and direction, and through him we shall reach our final destination. 

But Paul also recorded a stern warning, again written in terms associated with the analogy of the team of rowers. Two men in Ephesus, Hymenæus and Alexander, had chosen not to pull with the rest, and had made shipwreck of their faith, threatening to affect others too.  

Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy Ch.1:19-20 

We have to learn to put our faith in the captain, and pull together in united service. Yet it is much easier to sit back, considering others to be God’s stewards, and not ourselves. Paul was certainly the steward of the Gentiles, and the Lord Jesus served his Master, even unto death on the tree. 

We read of the various tasks allocated in the New Testament churches, and see them reflected in our own organisation. But we need to realise that service is a duty which falls on all disciples without exception. The parable of the talents is very familiar, but in Luke 12, the Master blesses the wise and faithful steward whom he had found working diligently when he returned without warning. Because he had the oversight of God’s house, the faithful and wise steward was always working, while watching and waiting for his Master’s return. 

The team must be coordinated by a leader 

The leader or leaders would help coordinate the team. This would help it achieve the goals it was aiming for. 

Solomon realised teamwork was necessary to build the temple

Solomon was example of someone who knew the advantages of team work. Gifted by God, Solomon was to build a House (temple) for God in Jerusalem and was keen to begin by laying its foundations. First, he reorganised some aspects of the Kingdom and then he proceeded to build up a team of workmen, from Israel and elsewhere, to get the great project underway. There was a lot to be done.  

Having reorganised both the civil service and the tribal boundaries, to increase efficiency and to ensure that the nation could afford the capital expenditure programme he had in mind for God, Solomon turned his attention to organising a large workforce.

For the project required civil engineering, complex building construction, and fine artwork. To do all these well enough for God required the involvement of an international team of labourers and the employment of skilled craftsmen. 

After some time, a picture of the task force was beginning to become clear. Jew and Gentile were going to work together to fell and transport the timber. Solomon’s levy drafted in a huge number of labourers to work a month at a time, with a two months’ break before they began another stint of felling duties. The well-established forests of Lebanon must have been alive with people from time to time, whenever the weather made felling and logging practical, and whenever the sea was calm enough to let the log rafts be safely floated down from Lebanon to Jaffa, and thence be dragged or carted up to Jerusalem. Teamwork was of the essence, for the record says that: 

King Solomon conscripted laborers from all Israel—thirty thousand men. He sent them off to Lebanon in shifts of ten thousand a month, so that they spent one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor. Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hills, as well as thirty-three hundred foremen who supervised the project and directed the workmen.  1 Kings Ch.5:13-16   NIV 

So priorities and resource allocation had to be planned very carefully by Solomon so that the Temple would be built on time and to plan. In other words, coordination of all the resources (both human and non-human) was critical for success. Questions needed to be asked - Does Adoniram understand what he must do?

Do all the foreman understand their jobs and what they must achieve?  

Have clear expectations been communicated 

The leaders need to clearly communicate their expectations for the performance of the team. Each team member must know why this team was created. They must understand the purpose of the team. 

Believers are the living stones which are being built into a spiritual house.

God made it very clear as to what the purpose of the believers was to be.  

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  1 Peter Ch.2:4-5   NIV 

The believers are a team – the stones – which when put together will build a spiritual house. All the parts become one. In the same way, all the individuals become a team. In our individualistic society, we can easily forget our dependence on other believers. When we are given a task, we must never forget that God is also calling others to work with us. Together the efforts of the individuals will be multiplied.  

The members of this team are to in training to be a holy priesthood. And this team has been given clear expectations from God – they are to offer spiritual sacrifices to God. This means to sacrifice your own self-interest and to give your life in dedication to God. It is not sufficient to just believe we must put this belief into action on a daily basis.  

With the expectations of God known it is then easy for the team of believers to work together to achieve purpose of God. 

The individuals must understand the meaning of the team’s existence 

The members of the team must understand why they are taking part in the team. They need to appreciate why using a team (as opposed to individual effort) will help the goals of God to be achieved. So the team must understand where the work it does will fit into the total context of God’s purpose for this earth. How it will met God’s goals, vision for this earth, and values he holds. 

God’s work involves many different individuals who have a variety of abilities and gifts. Each team member is carrying out his own special role. 

For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.   1 Corinthians Ch.3:9 NIV 

To use our individual talents in a effective way we need to understand why this team exists. Why are all the believers working in God’s field as a united team. Why are all the believers united as team to become God’s building. To answer these questions we need to understand the purpose of God. What is his plan for the human race.  

but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD  Numbers Ch.14:21 

At the very highest level this is the purpose of God. 

The team members must have competence 

The people participating in the team must be appropriate. Each member must have skills, capability and knowledge to participate effectively in the team. This can be achieved in two ways: 

a. Individual team members study and learn what is required. 

Each believer must ensure they have the knowledge to help the group at large to achieve the purpose set by God. The best way to serve God is to become familiar with what he tells us in the Bible.  

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.   2 Timothy Ch.3:16-17 

So if we are serious about being followers of Jesus then we need to know the Bible very well. God gave it to mankind so that we would know who he is and how we should live. 

A Bible reading plan will help believers to cover all parts of the Bible regularly and systematically. 

b. Other team members help each other to learn 

Rather than trying to do things alone rely on others to help you. Also, try to help others. 

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.   Proverbs Ch.27:17 

If we see a believer walking alone, it is the other team members (believers) responsibility to “sharpen” that person by godly encouragement. If this obligation was recognised by each believer then the requirements of God would be more closely met. 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,  1 John Ch.1:7 

Biblical fellowship is built on shared calling, shared beliefs, shared hopes, shared faith and shared suffering. 

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  Ephesians Ch.4:4-6  NIV 

So each member of the team must have the competence to met the goals of the team. We need to help each other so that we can all met the requirements of God. 

The team members must communicate with each other 

Team members must communicate clearly and honestly with each other. There may be different opinions amongst team members but these must be brought out into the open and discussed honestly.  

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.  1 Corinthians Ch.1:10  NIV 

There must be regular meetings so that the individual team members can communicate with each other in a formal structure. But there should also be plenty of time to communicate in informal ways. For believers who attend a church there are two groups they probably communicate with – those at their local church and those belonging to their denomination at other locations. 

a.  Communication within the local branch of your church 

You maybe a believer who belongs to a large denomination but attend the services of the church belonging to that denomination in your local area. 

Believers in that church need to met on a regular basis so that they can communicate with each other – both formally during the church service and informally after the service. 

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.   Hebrews Ch.13:16  NIV 

b.  Communication as a worldwide group of believers 

This website belongs to the Christadelphian group of believers. Each of the branches (churches) at different geographic locations are called ecclesias. The Greek word which is translated “church” in the English Bible is “ecclesia”, meaning “an assembly of called out ones”, i.e. believers. Ecclesia therefore refers to a group of believers. 

Communication between ecclesias is something which needs to be always considered. We may wonder how we can work together with believers in other ecclesias. We may well be very busy ourselves and feel that we have little time to devote to other activities. Here are some suggestions:

1. Be aware of what your neighbouring ecclesias are planning.

2. Let individuals in those ecclesias know you are praying for their activities.

3. Seek advice and help from those in other ecclesias for your activities.

4. Offer help and advice to those in other ecclesias with their activities.

5. Meet with brethren and sisters in other ecclesias, both in their halls and privately.

6. Plan joint events with neighbouring ecclesias, both preaching and study as well as social.

Working together with believers from other ecclesias will increase our personal commitment to spiritual rededication and to preaching. The fact that we are working together will encourage us in the task.

So open, honest and regular communication is important to keep the unity of believers. This is required by God. 

Summary 

A group of believers need to work together as a team. They need to have a clear understanding as to what they are working towards i.e. the goals of the team – ultimately to glorify God. 

As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 1 Corinthians Ch.12: 20-25 NIV

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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 April 2013