Several years ago, I read the book The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. An exceptional book, it describes how “with a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler.”
Describing the formation of the crew, the granddaughter of one of the members spoke of how George Pocock, an expert boat builder and coach, noticed that one of the boys held back, not allowing himself to be “one with the boat.” He couldn’t relinquish control. “And a crew doesn’t succeed that way. There are no superstars in a boat. You can be better by becoming something bigger than yourself.” You have to trust the team.
Arriving home after serving a week at camp, I found these words to often be descriptive of serving with others in the ministry. Why do we so often not trust the team that God has put together for His work? Why can’t we relinquish control, or more specifically, why must we be in control? Why do we seek to be the superstar? In our zeal to excel, why do we grieve the Holy Spirit by hindering the ministry of others?
As the University of Washington’s crew learned to trust each other, they began winning races – ultimately winning the most significant race of their lives – the 1936 Olympic race.
As the Body of Christ learns to trust each other, we will begin winning souls – helping people in the most significant decisions of their lives.
The 1936 team was composed of regular guys who worked and trained hard. In the same way, God does not choose only the wealthy, the elite, or the privileged to serve Him, but He calls those who struggle, those who are unknown, those who are ready to serve Him whenever and wherever. In the process, however, we have to learn to work together as a team. We must learn to forgive when others make mistakes. To set aside our pride, to extend grace, and to encourage each other to grow in faith and service.
What joy it would be to serve on a team that holds each other in high regard, that sees each member as essential to the work God has called them to do, and that encourages each individual to use her strengths to glorify God. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen, because we are people who still struggle with pride. Even in churches and ministries, we see people vying for power, to keep power, to be the superstar today.
How are you ministering in the church? Are you a part of “something bigger than yourself”? Do you encourage your pastor’s wife to use her strengths? Are you a team member? Or are you constantly trying to be in control?
Imagine what God could do through us if we humble ourselves and learn to trust His team with whom we serve – winning souls for His Kingdom.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” 1 Peter 5:6
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