The end of the current NBA season is upon us, and this is the time of year I actually pay attention to what’s going on. I grew up absolutely loving basketball. My grandfather had played throughout school, and since he was my hero, I wanted to mimic him. I eventually became hooked, and by the 7th grade the sport of the hardwood floor had supplanted the red dirt diamond as my favorite sport. It helped that a guy named Michael Jordan had burst onto the scene as a global phenomenom. Me and my buddies watched his games, wore his jersey, and begged for a pair of his “Air Jordans.” Alas, after his retirement, I have lost much of my passion for the ole orange ball. But, I do enjoy the semi-finals and finals. As I watched last nights Pacers win to tie the series with the Heat, I made an observation I’d like to share.
Lebron James is his generation’s Jordan. He is a ridiculously gifted athlete, and also a ferocious competitor. Clearly, Lebron is the star and leader of the Miami Heat, even though his teammates are superstars in there own rights. The fact remains, he is just that much better. At the end of the game, a game that Lebron arguably had single handedly kept Miami in, he fouled out and was sent to the bench. The game was tied up, with just a few short minutes left to play. All of Lebron’s talent, charisma, and competitiveness couldn’t help his team one bit. He was done, out of the game. So what happened? The Heat fell apart in his absence. They missed shots, couldn’t rebound, couldn’t defend, and superstar Wade was called for traveling!! Total choke on the part of the Heat. It was as if Lebron was the only fuel the Heat engine could use. They lost the game.
I’m reminded by this situation that we all need a team. Whether it’s your family, your staff, or your circle of friends, you need a team!! Well, that is, if you want to accomplish anything of significance. Jesus, the greatest leader of all time, built a team. The early church was led by a team. All great churches and ministries are led by great teams. Lebron needed his team to step up. His individual accomplishments mean little if the TEAM loses. And they lost. If you’re a leader, then build a team. Train them, love them, and serve them. When you build a great team, chances are together you will get some numbers in the win column. And, the journey will be so much more fun than if you go at it alone.
Once every year our country comes together to eat, hang out, and watch the football game. I say it in that order because I’m convinced, especially in the South, that most folks aren’t really watching the Super Bowl but instead are just having fun with friends. In fact, most people probably just want to watch the commercials!! I’m sure I will have my share of chicken wings this Sunday night. As we approach the big day, I am reminded more than anything of the power of the team.
Football is a great sport for many reasons, but the greatest to me is the fact that it truly is a team game. Sure, there are individual positions on the field but they are all extremely intertwined. Every player’s ultimate success lies not only in his own performance but also on the performance of those around him. Even the quarterback can’t get his job done if the line doesn’t hold tight and protect him. It’s hard to throw an accurate pass lying flat on your back!! There is a ton of trust and relational chemistry that must be built for a football team to succeed.
I have always loved being on a team. Whether it was the numerous baseball and basketball teams I was on growing up or the leadership teams at my home church, I enjoyed the shared experience with my teammates. In high school I was on a drama team that performed a production for our school that people just loved so much. I remember sharing the moment of applause as we bowed together……all 20 of us! In college I was part of a touring music group. Night after night, we would minister through word and music all over the southeast. We rode together, rehearsed together, set up stages together, and allowed God to use us together. From the sound tech to the lead guitarist to the lead singer, it was all a big team effort…..and I LOVED it.
I think the reason teams are so appealing to us is that God made us that way, and He modeled it for us. Really what a good team becomes is a community. I bet that the two super bowl teams talk about more than just football when they’re together. I bet they talk about their families, share advice, and maybe even some pray together. Teams…..GOOD teams always become communities, and communities are powerful. A good team becomes life giving to those on the team.
At my church COTES Ministries, we are really big on Small Groups. We have a large church, but we truly are a collection of small groups. These groups meet together to eat and fellowship, study the Scriptures, and pray together. It is amazing what happens over time in these groups. They really become TEAMS! When there’s a need, they come together. When a member hurts, the group jumps in to help. They laugh together, cry together, and do life together.
We also have a staff that I like to call the TEAM. I am one of a great group of people who feel called to lead our local body of believers in Christ. I love our small group and I love our church staff/team. They are my friends and my partners in ministry and mission. My family is also a team….a 5 person team!! Team Bell. We are doing life together in the Bell house! We were all created to be on a team. This week as you watch the big game, notice how they work together. Look for the chemistry. I would also ask you to consider getting on a team if you’re doing life alone. You were created for community. You were created to do life on a team.