By Duane Kobayashi

In concept, “team” is an easily accepted notion. Its importance is pushed within the workplace, sporting arena, and church. In any of these contexts, team is discussed, analyzed, preached, and ultimately built to achieve the expected and desired benefits. Effort expended in building a team is never considered wasted time. Regardless of the context, team is always expected to yield increased productivity, success, effectiveness, etc. As we like to say, how else “could one man chase a thousand or two put ten thousand to flight?” (Deut. 32:30)

The consequence of team is often increased effectiveness. We enjoy these benefits and can even be tempted to value team because of it. Increased effectiveness or any other functional benefit of team cannot be the basis for our valuation of team. If it is, then our valuation of team is sustained only if the achieved results meet our expectations. Put another way, we can value what team produces, but not value team itself.

For example, if we base our valuation of team on its effectiveness, what would happen if the team did not produce the expected benefit? Would we seek to “improve” the team by replacing noneffective team members? Put simply, there is great danger in valuing team based on what we can do. In contrast, I propose that team can only be valued based on what we can’t do.

In fact, you could say that an individual’s value of team is directly proportional to the individual’s recognition of his/her own shortcomings. If one doesn’t perceive any deficiency or weakness in oneself, why would team be important? 

Team must be valued for itself. If we believe in team for the sake of team, then a lasting commitment must exist where we live in team. We know from I Cor. 12:21 that the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Living in team requires that we live in need of others. This can only happen when we recognize that we need others to complement ourselves. Living without need can be viewed as the antithesis of team.

How then do we know that we truly value living in team? How do we examine ourselves? 1 Cor. 12:26 tells us how the parts in the body live, noting that “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” This picture illustrates the equal concern that parts of the body have for each other. This concern naturally arises through the understanding that I am incomplete apart from team. By God’s design, my life is tied to this team whose triumphs and setbacks are shared together.

As part of the body of Christ, we want to be effective in fulfilling the unique call that God has for us. Let us do so with an acute awareness of our need for completeness in team.