If you’ve ever seen Chariots of Fire, then you are probably familiar with the scene when Eric Liddell, the famous Scottish Olympic Gold Medalist, throws his head back as he turns the last corner of the 400 meter dash. In slow motion, you watch him lift up his head, smile and heave his chest forward toward the finish line. You hear him say confidently, “God made me for a purpose. He also made me fast and when I run, I feel his pleasure.”
This scene gets me every time, sending chills down my spine and bringing tears to my eyes. Eric knew he was doing what God created him to do at that moment in his life. So did his brother and sister who were cheering him on in the stands. No doubt God used Eric Liddell in incredible ways through sport and ministry. After Olympic glory, he returned to China, the country of his birth, serving there until his death in 1945.
I have had those “God made me for a purpose” experiences. You probably have too- holy moments when you are using your God-given gifts in such a way that God’s pleasure is undeniable. It’s like being on holy ground. And I wonder…have you seen this in your teammates? Do you even know?
Let me pose a question to you: Are you cheering your teammates or local partners on as they grow and serve in the way God has gifted them to?
Did I just make you uncomfortable? Well, they have a long way to go, you say. If only you knew how difficult they are to work with, you say. I don’t even know what their gifting is, you say.
Or did your mind take you to a moment when you witnessed your teammate soaring, and it made you cheer? They nailed their language evaluation, yay! They taught that lesson so well! She hosted all those visitors while bouncing a little one on her hip, with a smile to boot! He bandaged that wound so adeptly- cool!
Do you think Eric Liddell’s siblings in the stands had thoughts running through their mind like: He always gets the attention. My sermon was just as good the other day. I’m the one that’s been doing all the cooking while he trains, no one cheers for me!
Oh friends, let’s be honest…it’s so easy to compare ourselves with and judge what our teammates are doing or NOT doing- for us, for ‘the people’, and for God. We completely fail to see them the way God does, especially when there is conflict, unspoken expectations, or different styles of ministry.
Peter Scazzero writes in his book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Day by Day” devotional:
As emotionally mature Christian adults, we recognize that loving well is the essence of true spirituality. God invites us to “practice the presence of people,” within an awareness of his presence, in our daily relationships. Love is “to reveal the beauty of another person to themselves,” wrote Jean Vanier. Jesus did that with each person he met.
When I put this into the context of TEAM, it is my hope that in loving my teammates, I am able to reveal the beauty of God’s gifts in them. Of course, that’s not always easy. There are times in team life when I have felt sidelined and limited in using my gifting or talents within my team. I’ve been tempted to become jealous, annoyed, or competitive with others. In the past I know that I’ve pushed and challenged teammates in ways to compensate for my own insecurities. This is not love.
Scripture tells us to encourage and build up one another (1 Thess. 5:11). We are all part of One body, and what better place than TEAM to practice the act of revealing the beauty of another person to themselves…to see what God is doing in them and through them, for His pleasure! On another note, gifts, talents, passions and dreams can transform or look different in various seasons of life, and teammates need to be aware of this and make space for changes.
Try saying this to a teammate, “I love it when _____”, in order to build each other up. Filling in the blank could be anything that warms your heart, spurs him/her on, or validates their gifting. In fact, after reading this, take a moment if you can, to say to your teammate or spouse, “I love it when____”. It might just give them the encouragement they need or bring revelation to what God is doing in their life today! And I guarantee it will change your heart too.
Have you experienced awe-inspiring moments in which you saw God’s gifting at work in your teammate?