William Carey almost failed his mission in India. He and his family became homeless; three of his children died when they ran out of money and his wife suffered from acute depression. In the end, she was kept in a room and under physically restrain.
The arrival of Joshua Marshman and his wife turned the tides. The Marshman family took care of Carey’s neglected children and his wife. Later on, William Ward joined them too. William’s skills in administration gave the work a new cutting edge.
Shared leadership saved Carey’s mission! By the time of his death, Carey had established churches and colleges, translated the gospels into forty local dialects, and succeeded to ban the practice of Sati (burning of widows on their husband’s funeral pyres). He was called ‘the father of modern missions’” by some. Carey’s vision was successfully completed by teamwork.
Jesus calls us to a work too big for one man to accomplish: to “make disciples of all nations”. That’s why he commissioned a body, a team, to do the work.
It takes considerable adjustments for us to become team players, but it’s worth the effort: one person doesn’t have enough strength, sight, wisdom, capacity, and adequate skills to do the work.
It takes learning to change focus from “I” to “we” and become team players. It’s a counter-cultural shift in thinking and everything around us opposes it!
We are wired by culture to compete for individual success and celebrity fame. We fear our efforts might go unnoticed because we become team players instead of lone rangers.
On the other hand, skills of teamwork don’t come naturally; the effort to learn to work with different personalities makes us question if it’s worth a try. But the reality is that only teamwork makes the vision successful.
Paul the apostle accomplished much because he had a good team of people like Barnabas, Timothy, Titus, Artemas, and Tychicus who helped him reach the world for Christ. Paul and his team travelled a distance of about 10,000 miles across much of Asian Minor and Greece during their outreach ministry. One man alone can’t successfully finish such strenuous undertaking!
The process of learning to become team players can come in two ways; one way is to be bashed around by failure long enough to have our prides knocked out of us, as the Bible says in Ecc. 4:10 (NKJ), “…woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up”.
Another way is to, humble ourselves, recognize the need for teamwork, and intentionally work on building skills to become good team players whose interests are to help the team accomplish its aims and objectives. For those who do the second, the promise is that “they have a good reward for their work” (Ecc. 4:9, BBE).