The Heart of Teamwork

©tkbeyond/word-strong It was sunny when I walked into the restaurant, while a few heavy rain drops from a dark and threatening sky scattered across the sidewalk. Within a half hour those skies opened up with buckets of rain in a symphony of brilliant flashes, raucous thunder, and gale-force winds. As my friend said, "Just a typical summer afternoon in Florida."

I watched the show through the picture-glass windows from behind the counter. The crew around me were busy with a few orders, cleaning assignments, and readying a back-up plan if the power went out. I'm behind the counter as a part-time chaplain for the staff. I listen, ask questions, encourage, and try not to interrupt the continuous flow of work around me. Once again I see the value of interdependence, as I wrote about last week. Not just the ebb and flow of a team at work, but the cooperation and interaction of people.

As a culture, we Americans are obsessed with time and getting the job done. Rest? Fun? Relationships? We do those after the work is done, and when there's time to do it. Problem is, we are so busy and distracted with so much, we have little time for rest, fun, and relationships. We have to schedule time to talk or get together. How crazy is that? It's real crazy, and it's not healthy.

This obsession with time and work impacts marriages and families, communities and churches, and each of us as individuals. It throws things off kilter, and it's disruptive.

Studies are made to find ways to improve relationships. We know it's important, yet we look past an essential ingredient. What is it? Interdependence.

Another look at interdependence...

Last week I looked at interdependence within a family, and used a recent story as an example. We see this reflected in how the early church gathered together and functioned (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35 GW). They needed each other.

But things in the early church didn't stay that way. As the church grew in numbers, and included people of different backgrounds, conflict entered and the harmony was broken. One group of people felt another group got preferential treatment. The story is found in Acts 6:1-7 GW. This story has been played out over and over again through the centuries. Sadly, it's to be expected.

The primary leaders of the church gathered the people and said, "We need help. So find some good men to help us resolve this problem." (Acts 6:2-3 GW) I've paraphrased what they said, but that's the crux of the matter. Other people needed to step up, leaders the people trusted.

Once again, we see the value of interdependence. A conflict arose that disrupted the harmony and unity of the church community. They needed each other in order to resolve the conflict and restore harmony. As it turned out, things got much better (Acts 6:5-7 GW).

As I watch the crew at the restaurant, I see interdependence. The work is broken up into two general areas, the front and the back. Those in the front interact with people, while those in the back do more physical work. Each person has a specific role, but some need to do more than one job, or at least switch from one role to another.

A closer focus...

When it gets busy, I try to stay out of the way. But this is what I observe. One person does the set up for each specific order, the grill cook is constantly moving as he (or she) adds meat, flips and turns it, and pulls food off the grill as it's ready. Another person handles the fries and other special orders. When it's really busy someone may step in to get the orders out to the front for pick up.

As I said, I step aside, but I enjoy watching the intricacy of the system, the interdependence and cooperation of each team member. When one person doesn't do their role well, it affects the whole restaurant—the staff, front and back, the customers, and so on.

I see a picture of how the church is to work together, in interdependence and cooperation. The interaction isn't always smooth, but there is a place and a role for every person within the community of the church body.

One of my favorite verses about all this is pretty straightforward. I've used it many times to encourage and exhort a group of believers, the church as a whole (in a Sunday message), or just my staff. It's truth rings clear whether in America or overseas.

He makes the whole body fit together and unites it through the support of every joint. As each and every part does its job, he makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:16 GW)

What are your thoughts on all this? Do you have personal experience where you've seen this interdependence within the church community? If so, I'd love to have you share it. You can do so in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll share an encouraging comment!