God Doesn’t Use People {The Grove: Team}

Amy wrote at The Grove last week, “He loves you and wants to heal you. Not so he can ‘use your story.’ No, just because he loves you.”

And this stuck to my soul. (Amy wrote that, too.)

What shift would happen in our teams if we didn’t use one another like God doesn’t use us?

Paul told us all about it in Galatians 5:19-23. The Message is Peterson’s. The brackets are mine.

First up, The Black Team:

It is obvious what kind of [team] develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

Gets between the joint and marrow, doesn’t it? Let’s reflect:

Which phrase stands out to you? 

What intersects with your reality? Are you brave enough to acknowledge it?

Now, let’s go on. Enter The Red Team.

But what happens when we [team] God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Which gift delights you?

Which have you experienced?

Which do you crave?

The anti-proverb – that interpersonal conflict with other expatriates is one of the chart-topping reasons workers leave the field – is written in the books and in many of our scars. It’s the trophy of The Black Team.

What if team was a reason to stay? 

Nick and I sat our teammate down to have an awkward conversation. I had the same play-it-cool quiver I had when I asked Nick out in college.

Would she change her plans to start graduate school in the fall? Would she stay another year and continue to work with us? Things are going so well. There’s an obvious chemistry and finally, (finally!) there’s some momentum building in the work.

Take all the time you need to think, pray, talk to your family. We know you’ve honored your commitment and we’re so grateful, but please, would you stay?

By dinnertime the next day we had our answer and our intact team. Oh, exuberance. And it was a very good year. Sinatra could have sung another verse.

Three things helped us tend the fruit God was growing. These aren’t novel, and I think that’s part of the beauty.

We ate, played, and prayed together regularly.

M’Lynn wrote about feeding one another. We also had our favorite restaurants, and we named them 1, 2, and 3.

We invented a sport called 外球 waiqiu (foreign ball). It was played on a dirt soccer pitch with a baseball bat, a frisbee, and a nerf football. Mildly competitive and oh-so-much-fun, we played for hours on Sunday afternoons.

We kept a team prayer journal. Recording our petitions and tracking developments week after week took us deep into the work and set the pace for all of our interactions and activities. Nick and I took the model that developed that year into future teams.

Each team is as unique as the image-bearers that make it a team. When image-bearers don’t use one another, we end up uniquely living the gospel that we preach. Team becomes a reason to stay, and that’s a trophy for The Red Team.

Have you had a team worth staying for?

There are six reflective questions in the post. Let’s use the comments to discuss them.

This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions.


  1. Danielle Wheeler April 10, 2015

    That quote from Amy stuck out to me too.  And the Gal 5 passage is so rich for applying to team.  I really liked getting the glimpse you gave us into your team life that year.  Those three simple things are so key: eat, play, pray.

    1. Kimberly Todd April 13, 2015

      The Gal passage wasn’t the one I was sitting in for this post at first, but once it started to speak, there wasn’t any other way to go. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that team is a seed-to-fruit affair.

  2. Laurie April 10, 2015

    Team building is the hardest part of M life!

    1. Kimberly Todd April 13, 2015

      Laurie, yes, so hard. I have felt about team like I have felt about having newborns. There are so many, many things that can go wrong, it’s hard to believe that we’re going to survive the year. And yet, somehow, I have two healthy kids and more positive team stories than negative ones. Thanks be to God.

      Do you have a war story that needs telling?

  3. Monica F April 11, 2015

    I love our team so much- we are quite the odd mix too!  Each member on our 8-person team represents a different country/ethnicity except for my husband and me.  We all have been committed very deeply to one another from the get-go and even in times of disagreement, we have all made the effort to speak to one another in love.  Perhaps because some of us live in an isolated location and the others live in a big city… the separation keeps us ‘fonder’ of one another?  Although the distance brings it’s own disadvantages as well. Because all of us are in different seasons of life- we’ve had to learn how to deal with extended home-leaves, seeing kids off to college, having babies, going home to care for aging parents, etc.  We’ve had to learn to live with others limitations, preferences, and dreams as well. I’m so thankful for our team, they’ve become like family!

    1. M'Lynn April 13, 2015

      Hooray for your team, Monica! What a gift!

    2. Kimberly Todd April 13, 2015

      Monica, this is so beautiful. Thank you for giving us this glimpse!

  4. Sally Todd April 12, 2015

    Gal 4-5 has been written on my kitchen wall since January..to reflect on every morning before departing for the day’s work.  I have been learning that altho my team is struggles with all the Black team issues of ill-will and discord, low spirits, diminished energy, isolation,  that I am free to be tenderhearted and calm, steady and persisting in the work He has given me.  Staying on track with only that is enough.  I am listening for His voice more carefully now, working to see my team members distress rather than judge their failure and holding tight to those who can give me the support I need.  They are not the team I live with but the team He has provided from a distance.  Oh the gifts of the Red team!  Restoring energy and opening my eyes to the Spirit that permeates it all.  Not what I expected but what He is using to transform ME.

    1. Kimberly Todd April 13, 2015

      Thank you for this comment! It is so chalk full of goodness. It’s important to talk about what happens when we can’t “save” a team. What kind of people will we be and what will we do then? I don’t think there is always a clear path. I love how you have drawn on the Word and the Spirit to answer those hard questions and to cultivate compassion, set boundaries, and build a red team when the one in proximity can’t be it. You are an inspiration and a light. Shine on.

  5. M'Lynn April 13, 2015

    Yay, Red Team! Boo, Black Team. ha. (and Black Team’s mantra is so yucky. Such a good reminder of what NOT to do, and I need that reminder because our humanness so easily gravitates toward the yuck).  It’s funny you mention a year when you were able to return an intact team…that’s the situation we had the year our team found it’s swing 🙂  All but one from the previous year returned! It was quite a miracle.

    1. Kimberly Todd April 13, 2015

      We should make signs and paint our faces.

      I find that intact-ness detail really interesting. I wonder what gold nugget is lurking in there.

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