October 19, 2006
The Lord Jesus Christ says that teamwork is many members and yet one body. Webster defines teamwork as a joint action by a group of people, in which individual interests are subordinated to group unity and efficiency; coordinated efforts, as of an athletic team. Teamwork then can harmoniously be understood to be the concerted, singular focused efforts of individually important and extremely gifted people performing actions and accomplishments of targeted objectives. Whatever the goal may be, if it is worth accomplishing, it necessitates teamwork.
The purpose of this paper is to explain seven principles of team dynamics so that we understand and apply them to our efforts in service and success. The main source of extraction will be the word of God. All principles come from the mind of God. We understand that principles can be used both for good and bad, and that the native principles transcend time, culture, geography, and ethnicity. The goal of this study will be to note the dynamics of these seven principles and appreciate the benefits of applying them.
A key component to any team taking their place in the world is in appreciating the purpose of their work. Purpose is the reason for work and it is the intended resolution for existence and efforts of both an individual and the team. Purpose fosters determination and objectivity in a world that is filled with dysfunction and subjective practice. Any team that has a place ought also to have a purpose set firmly in their thinking. Each member should carry the conviction of his or her individual purpose together with the team’s purpose.
Purpose is established in four ways. You understand your purpose, first of all, by accepting what you are good at doing. Believers know that God has gifted every man with abilities that they are both born with and have been blessed to develop through training. (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4) You begin purposeful work by knowing what you are good at.
You understand your purpose, second, by acknowledging what you like doing. Teams must answer the question individually and as a collective, “What brings them joy?” “What do you not mind getting up for and staying late because of?”
You understand your purpose, third, by being aware of those things you do which add value to the lives of others. In seeing how your work develops others, you see glimpses of your purpose. Many people do things and get things, but what are the things that make a person better because they are done? These are the things that add value.
You understand your purpose, fourth, by appreciating where God has placed you. It is not incident or accident that God places us in the areas that He does for the express purpose of effecting change. Jesus would say that we are salt and we are light. The granules of salt do not request a specific place on the food that they season, preserve, or savor. Nor does the light request a particular portion of the room that it illuminates, exposes, and directs in. They do what they do where they are cast because that is their purpose.
In accepting our giftedness, acknowledging what we like, being aware of how we add value, and appreciating where the hand of God has placed us, we have the power of purpose as team. Every team needs the power of purpose.
Another key component of the team is in their tenacious ability to stay with the goal until it is realized. Such resolve begins with motivation. The Apostle Paul says, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…” (Phil. 3:13-14) What Paul doesn’t say in this text is how he presses. He uses a word that describes a straining fight. The word press is pictured as a struggle, a militant, squeezing, thronging effort to accomplish a goal. How do we work in situations like this and remain focused as a team? You must answer the question as individuals and a collective. “What is my motivation?”
In order to answer the question, you have to appreciate the meaning of the word. The word motivation is actually composed of the word motive and the suffix “tion.” Motive or motivate is the inner drive, impulse, etc…It is that which causes a person to do something or act in a certain way; it is the incentive or goal.
The suffix “tion” adds the meaning that signifies a state of being or present existence as. So then, motivation should be understood as the state of being driven by an inner force or act of doing something. It is the very incentive for being, doing, or involving oneself in a thing. Teams are to be driven and involved in accomplishing their objective through adverse or ideal occasions. The reality is that this scarcely happens within every arena. There are components of purpose and motivation that are warned against and thereby thwart the effectiveness of teams. The individuals who make up the team all have needs that must be met. This paradigm of motivation of each individual will determine to a large degree the behavior of successful and unsuccessful team members and teams. Notice the importance of these components.
Needs define what we hold as obligations or lack in some area of our life. They are the required conditions of the human being. Every individual has a primal, social, spiritual, emotional necessity that must be met in order to keep focus as a team player. Believers have an advantage in our lives that those without such confidence don’t have.
Psalm 27 teaches in the first six verses that the confession of faith we have in an all supplying God will destroy any lack presented by the human condition. Because God is personally involved in our lives, we have light in dark times of uncertainty. We have a rescuer when we are in dangerous situations and we have a stronghold that protects, provides, and positions us with confidence. The provision of glory that comes from dwelling with God, beholding the power of God, sacrificing to God and trusting in God creates a paradigm of security by which team member can see situations in a more confident manner.
Motive, behavior, and satisfaction are established from having a handle on who will provide for your needs. When teams have an understanding of God that creates solidarity of focus, their ability to be purpose driven and motivated to accomplish objectives is multiplied and their tenacity is realized.
Understanding the anatomy of motivation and the factors of purpose allows teams to express healthy efforts of tenacious cohesiveness. These efforts are additionally supported by three fundamental characteristics. These characteristics are adaptability, collaboration, and commitment. Notice their meaning and benefit.
Teams are comprised of people working together for a common end in sight while having a fixed understanding that what is done individually is for the purpose of the whole team, and the goal of the team. This takes people who are characterized as being adaptable. Adapt means to make suitable, especially changing, to adjust (oneself) to new circumstances, be able to adjust or to be adjusted.
It is absolutely correct that rigidity and teamwork do not go well together. Some have said, “Highly adaptable people are masters of change: adept at reorienting their own and other’s activities in untried directions to bring about higher levels of achievement.” Scripture teaches us much about what makes a person adaptable.
Adaptable people are teachable. They pursue wisdom and have an appetite for growth. James says, if any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) God places no restraints on increasing an individual’s adaptability. He says that you must simply accept His words, store up His commands, turn your ear to wisdom, apply your heart to understanding, and call out for insight, look, search, and then you will find the knowledge of God. “In fact, the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth, come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:1-6) In other words, if you love to learn, you will remain teachable.
Adaptable people are also secure. The greatest example of emotional security is in that of the Christ. Although He was as much a member and part of team Godhead, He was free from fear or threat for His role on the team. He left an awesome situation for the sake of the goal of the team. (John 1:1-14)
Adaptable people are therefore service driven. This helps to understand that you cannot be team oriented and focused on yourself. The Apostle Paul would say that he did like and for the people he served. When he was with Jews, he became like them. When he was among the Greeks, he became like them. He did what he did so that he might win! He was adaptable for the goal of the team! (1 Cor. 9:19-23)
The second characteristic is collaborative. Team members must be collaborative. Maxwell says, “Working together precedes winning together.” Not only is he correct, but also this stands as a fundamental truth to establish significant teams.
Collaboration is working together in a synergistic, aggressive, deliberate manner. It means much more than just working together. This characteristic goes against the idea of happily going about our roles. It suggests harnessing the abilities and efforts of the team and multiplying the outcome. “What collaboration gives is greater than the number giving it!”
In order to be collaborative, you must have the right perception. The greatest example of a correct perception is that of Jesus and team Godhead. Paul teaches that he was willing to complete and not compete. (Phil. 2:1-4)
You must also have the right attitude. Continuing in Paul’s thinking, we must assume the best in one another all the time and encourage the best from one another (Phil. 2:5-11).
Additionally, we must maintain the right focus. Paul again reminds us that we are headed toward a goal. Many times focus is the downfall to team efforts. The wrong questions are: “What is in it for me?” “How can I get out of this?” “Can’t someone else do it?” “Why me?” The right questions are “What do I need to do to make this happen?” “How does this benefit the goal?” “How will God be glorified?” “How can I get it done?” When we focus our hearts, we take broad multiple streams of giftedness and service and create a centered, laser-like powerful progressive work force.
Finally, collaborative team members get the job done. They create results. They don’t settle for anything less than victory! Second place to a collaborative person is the first loser and therefore not an option. They think win by any means necessary. Collaboration is absolutely necessary and it sets the bar for the characteristic of commitment.
Commitment is one of the greatest if not the greatest of both of the three components of teamwork and the three characteristics of the team individual. Commitment is the glue that holds the teammate to the team and the team objective. When one commits, they have vested themselves and their abilities to the purpose of the team. Commitment suggests that an individual come on to the island of decision and burn the bridges of excuses that provide a way off.
Those who are committed have a high value system. Values dictate an overall make-up and desire to be involved in what we are involved in. We can develop our value system by priority and increase the potential for effectiveness.
Faced with one of the greatest tests and temptations to not fulfill the goal, we can see the Lord Jesus on the Island of decision while in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was alone. He was hurt. He was betrayed. He could not and did not want to do it, but he valued the same things as team Godhead. He valued the goal and will of the team; therefore, He did His part and committed to finish at the cross. (Mt. 26:36 – 27:50)
Committed members have courage. It takes courage to stand in a decision during difficulties. It takes courage to stand alone. It takes courage to take the lead when it places you in perfect position as a target. It takes courage to admit you don’t have the answers. Committed team members are courageous.
When team members are adaptable, collaborative, and committed, they entrust the success of the team to stay on its purpose, remain motivated toward its goals, and be tenacious through adversity.
Finally, the last principle for consideration in this study is the principle of rapport. Rapport is the agreement and accord in a relationship. It is the harmony that brings strength to the connection. Rapport is where you build confidence in the relationship. Without rapport, the hard times in work and service as a team will not be accomplished.
Rapport has a number of benefits. It established the ability to take a team’s atmosphere from simple to significant. It helps to maintain open spirits and teachablitiy. It creates by in to the goals and objectives of the team. It also eliminates a number of barriers that arise in the journey of working as a team. In order to develop rapport, teams must do several things.
Teams must sacrifice. Sacrifice is at the core of building rapport. Our generosity, selflessness, and willingness to be available to the team is the best way to mirror the investment of our Lord and Savior.
Teams must also have some transparency. Through transparency, we practice admitting one another into our lives and our weaknesses. By allowing others to know we have needs, we connect with them in an unexplainable way. The team membership becomes relevant to each member.
Teams must be loyal. Loyalty fosters faithfulness and established confidence and longevity to the relationship that makes up the teams composite. Loyalty is important for the rapport of the team.
Finally, rapport is developed by being directional. The reason we sacrifice, show transparency, and are loyal is because of the direction of the team. Real teamwork mirrors the person, practice, and power of God. God has creative power, servant-like practice, and humility in His person.
Our ability to continue to empower the groups, organizations, congregation, etc…that we are a part of can only be accomplished by teamwork. Effective and excellent teamwork includes being purposeful, motivated, tenacious, adaptable, collaborative, and strengthened through rapport. Learn these principles. Practice them. Become proficient in them and they will lead any team toward a prosperous journey. (Rom. 4:1-13)
Agnes, Michael. Editor in Chief. Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th ed.
Foster City, CA: IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. 2001
Lussier, Robert N. Human Relations in Organizations. New York: McGraw Hill Inc.
Maxwell, John C. The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player. Nashville, TN: Thomas
Nelson Publishers, 2002.
The Holy Bible. Iowa Falls, IA: World Publishers, Inc.