Rafting Rapids 5 (2)I’ve heard it said that team work makes the dream work and I believe this is true provided that the true dream work is done with true team work. So, let me ask this question: What do you think makes the difference between true “team” work and just work on a team?  You see, almost everyone who works, works on a team of some sort. However, just because a person works on a team doesn’t really mean that there is true “team” work on the team.

The Difference Between A Job With A Purpose And A Job With A Payday In True Team Work

I believe that true teamwork involves team members who view their work as a job with a purpose; whereas, work on a team involves team members who view their work as a job with a pay day. Additionally, I think the one thing more than anything else that can ruin true teamwork is a spirit of entitlement among team members who just work on a team. A person with an Entitlement mentality says, “What can I get from working on the team?” A person with a Purpose mentality says, “What can I give to the work of the team?” As soon as people begin to think more about what they are supposed to get individually from working on a team, they forget the true reason for being on the team in the first place which is to accomplish a common greater purpose. True teamwork is always about fulfilling purpose BEFORE it is about the reward for team members.

Unfortunately, many of us often show up to work with the Captain Blue syndrome…

“Here I am, Captain Blue,

There is nothing, I can’t do.

No problem too big,

No problem too small,

Just call me,

I’m smarter than all.”

Have you ever felt like that? I think there is a little super hero attitude inside each of us because we all want to show up and save the day; however, I know it’s hard for us to hear, but the truth is, “There is none of us as smart as all of us.” We can save the day so much better when we do it together as a super team rather than a super hero. I like what Coach John Wooden, great hall of fame USC basketball coach, says about individuals and teamwork. “Individuals win trophies…teams win national championships.”

Do you realize that in a game of basketball, a player may only have the ball in their hands on average, about 2 or 3 minutes in a 40 minute game? This means that the real game of basketball is played away from the ball and great coaches coach players to excel when they don’t have the ball. What players do for the other 37 to 38 minutes when they don’t have the ball is what makes the difference in true teamwork. One of the greatest gifts that God gives to us is the gift of a true team.

The Difference Between Entitlement Mentality And Purpose Mentality In True Team Work

In Matthew 20, Jesus shares a parable with His disciples that illustrates an acute example of workers with an Entitlement mentality rather than a Purpose mentality.

“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.

At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’ They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’  “The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’

That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’

He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’ So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”

As members of a team, when we focus on what we deserve versus what we get to do in accomplishing a shared purpose, true teamwork suffers and unfortunately, we will likely end up last in the bigger purpose of the team.

The Difference Between Hard Work And Team Work In True Team Work

In Ecclesiastes 4:4-9, King Solomon shares some great insights about “hard” work and “team” work.

“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin. [Well, you know what, that’s not fair so I’m just going to do it my way] And yet, better to have one handful with quietness [teamwork] than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.

I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, ‘Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?’ It is all so meaningless and depressing. Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

When we put others first and work together as a true team, we are stronger, safer, and can accomplish so much more than we can by merely working hard and alone.

The Difference Between Sameness Mentality And Diversity Mentality In True Team Work

Besides entitlement mentality being a significant ruin to true teamwork, I also think Sameness mentality is as equally damaging to true teamwork. True teamwork is not about people holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” together having no conflicts and no differences on the team.  That is not an accurate picture of true teamwork. In fact, I believe true teams often have and should have great conflicts and great differences on the team because God has made everyone different. It’s our differences that make us stronger as a team…provided that each team member mutually respects the differences of one another and can embrace conflict in a healthy way that produces greater results for the common good of the team. As soon as a team embraces a sameness mentality through a covenant of peace inspired by a fear of conflict, mediocrity will surely supplant excellence.

The reason we are servant leaders who foster an environment of teamwork and mutual respect is not for us to have peace through sameness but rather for us to have excellence through diversity. We do this in a healthy way by mutually respecting our differences that make us strong and speaking truth in love during conflict that produces a greater common good.

The Difference Between Individual Uniqueness And Team Unity In True Team Work

When I first went to work in the oil and gas industry, I was told by a veteran in the company that a certain two people were like oil and water, meaning they did not get along well. So I figured I should stay clear of that interpersonal issue. After working in the industry for some time, I learned that oil and water does indeed not mix; however, I also learned that each compound had certain individual qualities that were beneficial to a greater good. For instance, because the properties of oil and water did not mix, the oil company could inject water into a lagging oil well to push greater volumes of oil out of the well through a water injection well. This taught me the leadership lesson that even though two people may not get along well, they each have unique strengths and gifts that can be used together for a greater common good.

Now in all of this, what I’m NOT saying is that we should NOT strive to protect and maintain a spirit of team unity as we respect our differences and embrace conflict in a healthy way. While we are all wonderfully and beautifully made with unique differences, as believers and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we all have the same Holy Spirit living inside of us. Therefore, we can experience perfect unity in Christ even though we are each uniquely different in Christ. Does that make sense?

In John 17:20-24, Jesus prays to the Father, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”

Based on the prayer of Jesus, our perfect unity in Christ as a team has huge implications for the world and our commission. In fact, Jesus prays that our unity in Christ will be so perfect that the world will know that God the Father sent Jesus to the world and that He loves the world as much as He loves Jesus. Wow! True teamwork with a spirit of unity in Christ matters greatly to God. We know this is true by Jesus’ prayer as well as His promise in Matthew 18:19-20 where He says, “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Shared Purpose Makes The Difference In True Team Work That Makes The True Dream Work

Since true “team” work is about shared purpose through the mutual respect of one another’s differences that make us stronger as a team, I’d like to share an acronym for PURPOSE that can help build greater levels of true “team” work on a team. I’ve learned these lessons by riding bikes over long distances with a group of cyclists.

P – Power: Where there is shared purpose, there is power through momentum.

U – Unity: Where there is shared purpose, there is team unity in the same direction.

R – Respect: Where there is shared purpose, there is respect among team members.

P – Provision:  Where there is shared purpose, there is provision for sharing the load.

O – Order: Where there is shared purpose, there is order in forward movement.

S –  Sustainability: Where there is shared purpose, there is sustainability through recovery.

E – Encouragement: Where there is shared purpose, there is encouragement for the journey.

To God’s glory, have a blessed “Make It Happen” day!

True Team Work Makes The True Dream Work Copyright 2013, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, True Team Work Makes The True Dream Work, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.