Team work

Published 9:14 am Thursday, February 8, 2018

As I watch the Super Bowl, I am always impressed by the talents of individual athletes. They bring together agility, strength, quickness of frame and split-second intuition. They demand the utmost from their bodies and are exceptional.

Whatever their individual talent, success always involves more than a single player. No matter how good they are or how many times they touch the ball, they need the rest of the team. Have you ever seen an offense or defense squad of just one player? Each one depends on the others for the team to work.

Whatever their level of competition, players need each other to show up for practice, and to give their energy and attention to grow in their skills. They have a joy in the game, and have fun together. But they also hold each other accountable, pressing each other to use their full abilities.

The Apostle Paul coached many local teams of Christians in the early era of the Church. These embryonic congregations faced all sorts of challenges. In each setting, they navigated in a culture of opposition. Internally, they were new learners of The Way of Christ. They struggled to listen to each other, to learn from each other’s witness, to model positive behavior, and to forgive each other. Paul repeatedly wrote to instruct and encourage them, for each person to be mature in faith, and for them all to be steadfast with each other. Each one depended on the others for the team to work.

To be Christian is to be a partner with God, and to be part of growing God’s community. I have lived my life both inside and outside the Church. I have pushed away from others because they were hard to live with, or I felt they were hypocritical, or I got bored with what they were doing. Over time, people have been critical of me as well. I have discovered through the years that we don’t come together as perfect people. There is no single “key, star player.” To borrow from Paul, each one is indispensable.

If I am going to be Christian, I’ve got to be present for practice with the team. We may know the coach. We may know the game. But in order to play it we have to learn to work together.

REV. MICHAEL KENDALL is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. His email address is mkendall@farmvilleumc. org.