As the NCAA tournament has played out the past few weeks, I’ve spent some time reflecting on what makes a good teammate. Ministry is a vocation that can lend itself to Lone Rangerdom, but it bears the longest-lasting fruit when it is done collaboratively. (Hey, even God needs three aspects working together to get the job done.) Whether you are part of a big staff or a solo pastor who recruits laypeople for some of the tasks covered by ordained ministers in larger churches, the following observations apply.
- Cooperate. This seems obvious, but it doesn’t always happen.
- Coordinate. The most effective ministry requires some measure of advance planning – together – not just in our individual areas of responsibility.
- Communicate. Learning teammates’ verbal and non-verbal cues cuts down on costly misunderstandings and allows the team to roll more easily with the unexpected.
- Practice and play hard. The whole team looks good when everyone has prepared. On the other hand, one person’s lack of preparedness can make the whole team look like it hasn’t taken the task at hand seriously.
- Share credit. Spread the word about how others contributed to a good outcome. Your teammates will become more deeply invested in your relationship and in your shared mission.
- Encourage one another. We all get down. And when we get down, we rarely do our best ministry.
- Know how and when to confront one another… Teams run into personality conflicts and differences of opinion. Don’t let them fester.
- …but also maintain a unified front. Nothing tears a team apart faster than teammates talking behind one another’s backs.
Being a teammate is about working with others toward a common goal and making those around us better. And there are few things as exhilarating and productive as being part of a team that has really gelled.