There’s no “I” in team.
That phrase has been uttered in generation after generation. Sometimes it’s a reminder that sports are team sports and the play of the team is greater than the play of the individual. Sometimes, it’s a reminder of the teams we are parts of in school or business and those teams are bigger than the sum of their parts.
Yet, there’s truth in that statement.
For the past month, we’ve been exploring the idea of TEAM at Wightman UMC. TEAM is a series name that is also an acronym, “Together Everyone Achieves More.” We’ve talked about how strong teams are built with a foundation of trust. For a team to grow, we have to feel comfortable in being vulnerable to others on the team. Then we talked about how sometimes teams try to avoid conflict and confrontation. However, we hold it true that relationships matter more than simply being right. And, we had that incredible model from Jesus on how we work to restore relationships.
Then last week, we talked about the uniform that the team wears, our team colors. Our uniform is the uniform of Jesus and when we wear it, we show the world what it means to be a part of Jesus’ team.
We’ll continue with the thought of team for another couple of weeks.
Did you notice something about the way that synopsis was written? I didn’t use “I”, “me,” “my,” or any of those other personal pronouns as I described it. That’s been on my mind this week.
Recently, while reading through a description of church’s new ministry, I was struck by how many times the writer referred to “I.” Here’s what I did.. Here’s what I’m going to do.. It has made me think about the ways that I use “I” too. Then I received an e-mail from another church and it was once again filled with “I” and “me.” And I realized that it’s not just those writers. I can do the same thing.
Those personal pronouns and identifiers are common for pastors. In talking to other pastors, we can say things such as, “Here’s what I’m doing at my church” or “Here’s the strategy that I decided to use.” And then as pastors, we can stand in awe or be jealous of someone who is doing something in a way that we wish we could do ourselves.
And that creates the tension. Ministry is never an “I” venture. Ministry is always a “we” effort.
Ministry is rooted in our connection to God, to the Holy Spirit, to the way that we follow after Jesus. When I am connected to God that way, it is never just about “me.” There’s always a “we.”
Ministry involves working together with other individuals to accomplish the common goal of the ministry. So, there’s a “we” there and an “our.” Never a “me,” an “I” or a “mine.”
Ministry is about walking through the journey with Emmanuel. Emmanuel means “God with Us” and it is the great promise that God is present with us now matter where we find ourselves. We might be having the greatest day ever. We might be walking through the roughest and lowest valley we’ve encounter. Yet, “Emmanuel” is present in our lives.
Ministry reminds us that we don’t walk through this life alone. We need others to share in this journey together. We need others for support. We need relationships.
When it comes to ministry, there’s no “I” in team. We simply work together to follow after the one we call the great “I AM.”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” — John 14:6.
What could truly change in our ministry, in the work of our team, if we could begin to minimize “I”, “me” and “mine,” and start to maximize “we” and “ours?”
There’s no “I” in our team, when we follow “I AM.”