Daily Devotional: Friday, March 15 - What Makes Teams Great

“All the parts of the body are joined and held together, with each part doing its own work. This causes the whole body to grow and to be stronger in love.” — Ephesians 4:16 (ERV)

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Relays are some of the most enjoyable events to watch. Whether they be track and field, skiing, swimming or something else, seeing individual athletes come together in group format and attempt to win a collective medal or title is quite inspiring. When you watch an event like this, two things become very quickly evident: The group format inevitably exposes any flaws in the individual participants, and the team is only as great as the sum of its parts. These two realities combine to determine either the failure or success of the collective endeavor.

When it comes to doing life within the faith community — be it in the context of church, small groups, Bible studies, friendships — the relay analogy is actually quite appropriate. We are on a team, striving both individually and collectively for a Heavenly goal. Hebrews 12 tells us we’re in a race, and while we are running an individual leg of that race, we aren’t actually running alone because there are countless others who are counting on us finishing well. We’re not just doing this for ourselves and Jesus, but also for those who have gone before and who are running alongside us.

This means that the same two principles apply here as in the relay:

1) Doing life with other believers means our flaws will inevitably be exposed as everyday strengths and weaknesses are brought to the table and we need to figure out how to overcome those for the good of the whole. There will probably be some dropped batons, some disqualifications, some injuries. There will be times when our behavior costs the group. But there is forgiveness in Jesus for these mistakes and mess-ups, and there certainly ought to be forgiveness within the group for His sake, as well.

2) We also see that the team is only as great as the sum of its parts. If everyone isn’t growing and learning and giving and forgiving as they ought to — if there is any weak link within the chain — then the collective success and power of the faith community will be compromised. The momentum will be slowed. We will fall off the pace and struggle to complete the race. Perfection isn’t the goal here, but God does require a desire for excellence and a willingness to train and show up so that the best possible results can be achieved for His Kingdom and glory.

Paul encouraged the Ephesians by equating their spiritual interaction and growth with the human body, reminding them that unity binds all the moving parts but each has to do its own work. And the individual aspects function together to make for a stronger whole. We need to be striving for the same. While our walk with God is very much personal, it’s also collective because He knew we’d need each other in order to do this thing called life. So let’s run this race well, looking out for each other as we look toward Him.

— Katherine Singer

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