The Strength of a Team

Thoughts on team ministry from dialogues with a missionary friend, Dave M.

The strength of a team is the composite of the strengths of the individuals.
The unity of a team is built around the weaknesses of each individual.

True, false or something in between?

Some would say that a team is only as strong as its weakest member.  This may be true in essential character areas, like faithfulness.  But the members of a team are less like links in a chain (linear) and more like the threads of a net.  This is the influence or benefit of synergy, in which the whole is stronger than the individual parts because they are woven together.

Some questions

Do we let the strengths of all members of a team show?  Do we value the different strengths?  Or do we allow the strengths of one or two members of the team to overshadow the rest?

This is where we typically miss the interplay in 1 Corinthians 12:21, “the eye can’t say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.'” By allowing certain types of strengths to dominate we leave others feeling less important and not valued, 1 Corinthians 12:15, “because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body.”

So we must look at the strengths of a team before we set the plan for the team.

How about weaknesses?

Often the strengths of individuals on a team taken to an extreme become weaknesses, particularly when driven by pride and/or self-sufficiency. These weaknesses then cause conflict which can lead to disunity, particularly when driven by pride and self-centeredness (“if everyone were like me, we’d be doing great”).

To the extent we understand the weaknesses of team members and have the ability to overlook those weaknesses when appropriate, yet deal with those weaknesses when needed–will determine the depth of the unity of the team.

This also requires that individual team members own or embrace their own weaknesses.  This is evidenced when a team member can celebrate the strengths of others in areas of their own weaknesses rather than being threatened by them.

No matter how strong a team, without unity effectiveness is hampered or potentially neutralized. Better a group of “normal” people–blending together their strengths (gifts, abilities, experiences) and their weaknesses for God’s purpose and for God’s glory–than a handful of “experts” who can’t meld together.

Your thoughts?

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