It becomes very clear from reading the Bible that God heartily endorses the concept of team work. Even from the very beginning, our Father stated, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). Throughout Israelite history, we see examples of how national unity (most often unified by common enemies, tragedies, or tribulations) helps galvanize God’s people in the face of mighty odds. Much later, we find that the church which Jesus established (Matthew 16:18) was always intended to be a team, and God wants His believers organized into local congregations (Acts 2:42, Romans 16:16, Hebrews 10:24-25). Also remember that there are passages which emphasize how much I need to participate in this team, and that I have an important role to play. “From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).
The feeling of uselessness can lead to the spiritual ruin of anybody, though, so it is important that we avoid several common attitudes:
First, when you start feeling like you are not needed, restudy what Paul has written in 1 Corinthians 12. He notes that each part of the human body has a unique and special function. Without each part being proud of its own task, the body fails to get anything done. Paul asks us to ponder the ridiculousness of one body part being envious of another for what is perceived as a more “glamorous” role!
It can also be tempting to feel like what you have to offer is less important than what other people have to offer. But a comforting fact is that nobody is good at everything. Even though one person may excel at something in a very obvious way, do not be tempted to assume they can do everything you can do (and better). It is stated, “But God has composed the body so, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:24-25).
Strength In Numbers
A theme that we often see in the world is that “I can go it alone” and still do great things. In an age of soloists and superstars, revels and loners, it is so tempting to believe that there is something to that lifestyle. Yet anybody who has lived long enough will eventually find that loners and superstars can never be better than the sum total of a team. These gifted underachievers fail to see that value of teamwork. “A study of horses revealed that a single horse could pull an average of 2,500 pounds. The test was repeated with two horses. You’d expect the weight pulled to double — to about 5,000 pounds. Not so. Two horses working together pulled 12,500 pounds. That’s five times the amount one could pull alone. There’s something inside a living being that rises to accomplish exponentially greater things when part of a team” (Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett Harris, p. 111). This has even more significance when we put it in the context of human teamwork. Solomon teaches, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up… And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
“Credit Is Free Around Here”
One thing that often gets in the way of team work is when people are preoccupied with getting credit for something. Incentives, bonuses, and special treatment can often have a negative effect on a team. This should not be so in God’s house, and a great motto to adopt would be: “Credit is free around here, and we give it away.” Paul is a great example of this, as he often gives credit to other workers, rather than keeping all of the glory for himself (Colossians 4:9-15, 1 Corinthians 3:4-9). Perhaps instead of always waiting around for someone to notice your good deed, you should take the initiative and compliment others, giving them preference (Romans 12:10). Remember that love never strives for fame, or the “chief seat” (Luke 20:46).
Focus On What Is Being Accomplished
Among the many distractions that Paul had to deal with, one of them stood out in his mind as he was writing to the Philippians in Philippians 1:12-18. Some people were preaching the Gospel for the purpose of making Paul jealous, but instead of being bothered by that, the great evangelist simply applauded them for their work (regardless of motivation) and praised God for the salvation of souls. We need to avoid discouragement by seeing the results of good work, even if we know something is awry behind the scenes in a person’s life.