Some time ago a man came to my office for counseling. He was frustrated because he did not feel God’s love or presence in his life. He had felt it in the past, as a young man in our high school and college ministries, but no longer. He had prayed for it, and as far as he was concerned, it hadn’t come. He was tempted to give up on God and walk away from the faith. He couldn’t understand why God, if He were alive and cared, wouldn’t reach out to him.
I just sat and listened. Then a thought came to me. I told him that the very fact that I was there listening to him, caring about him, was the love of God in action. If it weren’t for God’s love, I wouldn’t even care about his youthful doubts and questions. I would have been preoccupied with other “more important” things to do than to sit and listen to him. But Christ was alive, living in me, listening through me, and eager to answer his questions with love. I asked him if he sensed that I really cared. He did. I told him what he was feeling was not just the love of Dale, but also the love of God in me for him.
As the young man recounted his struggle with faith, he realized he had slowly disconnected from his friends at church, from ministry to others, and from trips to serve Christ and the poor. He remembered that his greatest times of intimacy with God were times spent with God’s people doing God’s business. He remembered sensing the presence of God as he shared his faith, served the poor, and helped a friend in need. In short, he realized that God had not moved, but instead, he himself had moved. As the man reengaged with the life of the church, he reconnected with the life and the love of God.
In the church, every believer is both needed and needy. In 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul wrote, “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” In context, this passage is talking about spiritual gifts. God gives each of us special gifts, and though you might not feel like it, others in the church need you and your giftedness. God grants us these gifts for the purpose of building up one another “for the common good.”
Life is a team sport, and to live a great life requires great teams in every area of your life. In the corporate world, a leader is only as good as the team he or she builds around him or her. In your marriage, you will be effective only if you work as a team with your spouse. In parenting, you want to build a team with your spouse, your kids, and the youth ministry at your church. Depend on others’ gifts for areas in which you are not so gifted. This is not a strategy of the weak, but of the wise.
The apostle Paul was one of the greatest Christians in the New Testament era, but he was not too great to realize the value of a good team. All through Romans chapter 16, Paul names individuals and teams who worked together with him. For example, he says, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks” (verses 3-4). Prisca and Aquila made up a team willing to put their lives on the line for Paul. Having that kind of support gave Paul a real advantage in a dangerous world.
Life really was designed, from creation, to be a team sport. No one can go it alone and still experience the joy of life as it is meant to be. We all need help. We all need a team of friends and family who can travel with us and tackle life together. So stop, reflect, and ask God to help you assemble a world-class team for life!
Below are 3 questions to get you started:
- Most of us have been raised to value independence and self-reliance. What influences in your life have encouraged too much of a prideful independence and an unwillingness to ask for help when you need it?
- Review the advantages of a life-team as stated in the discussion about Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Which of these advantages appeal to you? When in your life have you experienced the blessing of being supported by others? Where have you missed it?
- Teams are effective only when the members know each other and grow to love and trust one another. And that requires regular time together. How do you plan to alter your life to make time for building these close friendships?