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.
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