I heard the quote below used in a team-building exercise at work. We had all done a personality assessment and were discussing how each of the different profiles work together. A team made up of all one type would be highly dysfunctional. You need a variety of these personality types to work together for the best-functioning team.
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” Phil Jackson, former coach of the Chicago Bulls
To put the quote in context, Phil Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Michael Jordan was on the team and at the height of his game, helping the Chicago Bulls to 6 championships. Michael Jordan was clearly the star of the team, but he didn’t win these championships alone. He had a strong team around him and this quote shows that the coach also recognized the value of each member of that team.
We have a similar verse in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. This passage describes how a body is made up of different parts, each unique and each vital to the whole. The same is true with us as we make up the body of Christ. We each bring something unique and vital that help to make up the whole.
But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? 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. ~1 Corinthians 12:18-22
A team of all Michael Jordans would not have won 6 championships.
The team needed the unique set of skills of each player, working together as one team.
God intends for us to use our unique set of skills and work together as one body of Christ. Can you imagine what we could accomplish in the world if all Christians would work together as one body? What would happen if we combined our skills, recognized that each believer is indispensable, and worked together in harmony to have equal concern for one other?
But God has put the body together, giving 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. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part of honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it. ~1 Corinthians 12:24-27
As I read these verses, I see that God intended for us to have different gifts and skills, but also the diversity of thought, of denomination, of geography, of passions, of being.
God intended for us to be a team of unique individuals and to use our differences to make a stronger team.
Too often, though, I see us using those differences to tear each other down, to make our differences the reasons we can’t work together – instead of seeing our differences as the ways we can work together better.
I hear so much divisiveness in the news, on Facebook, in politics and even in the church. Sometimes I wish Facebook had a filter I could set to hide any posts that include any derogatory remarks (especially as we head into an election season). But, what if instead, we each take a step to spread more love than hatred? What if we began to celebrate our differences and look for ways those differences can work together for God’s greater good?
Like spring turning the world green, maybe we could color the world with God’s light and love.
What is your role on God’s team? How do you fit in and how are you supporting the other members?