Friday the Olympics began and one of the most amazing things to watch is the parade of nations. With all the problems our world faces, it is great to see so many nations gathered together in peace for some healthy competition. Between all the commercials on Friday night, one of the things the parade of nations showed us was that every Olympic athlete competes as part of a team. Even the nation of Tavula, which only had one athlete, came with a team
and this year there was even a team made up of refugees which should be a symbol to us that every athlete is part of a team.
Swimmers and runners which are more individual athletes are part of at team and they work together to push each other to be the best. Being part of a team is also essential for us in life and in faith. We need teammates if we want to run the race of faith to our fullest potential.
Today we are going to look at three specific things that teammates do for us and as we discuss each area I am going to ask you 2 specific questions. You can find these questions on your next steps if you want to follow along. The two questions are these:
Who is on your team? And Whose team are you on?
Before we start thinking about who is on our team to help us run the race of faith, let’s just think about who is on our team in life. Who is on your team? Parents? Husband? Wife? Brothers? Sisters? Friends? Co-workers? Coaches? Teachers? Who is on your team? And whose team are you on? Just as we need the support of others so others need our support. We are not supposed to live life alone. Even those who are the most introverted need teammates
God created us to be part of teams. When God made Adam he looked at him and said it is not good for man to be alone. Because we are created in the image of God, we have been created to be in relationship with others. God is relational – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – so we were created to be in relationship with others and that is not just a husband and wife. We were created to be part of a family, a community and yes a team. Teamwork is essential to life and it is essential to living life the way God calls us to.
Even Jesus shows us the need for teammates. What was the first thing Jesus did when he started his ministry? He didn’t go out do things alone; he called people to work with him. So even Jesus knew he couldn’t do it alone, he needed a team and so he called the disciples, but it was more than just the 12. In Luke 10 it says Jesus sent out 72 people to preach in the surrounding towns so Jesus had a team in ministry. Jesus also needed homes to stay in and people to feed him as he traveled. Jesus needed a team of people who would be there to support him. Jesus had many people on his team and he was part of their team. Actually, Jesus is on all of our teams!
So in life and in faith we need teammates and on each of our teams we need people to do three specific things. We need someone who will encourage us, we need someone who will challenge us and we need someone who will help us.
We all need someone our team who will encourage us.
1 Thessalonians 5:11. The Greek word for encourage is the word paraclete which is the same word we find in John 14 for the Holy Spirit. The word is defined as someone who walks along side of us and it is most often used in a legal setting so might be seen as a defense attorney. A defense attorney is that person who is there to speak for us and defend us. The encourager on our team is the person who walks with us in life and faith and cheers us on. If you don’t have an encourager in life and faith you need to get one because they will help us do more than we thought we could and they will motivate us in ways no else can.
A study was done to see just how much encouragement motivates us and what they did was have people stand in buckets of ice water. As you can imagine, people got uncomfortable very quickly so got out of the bucket. Then they brought in some encouragers who cheered people on and what they found was that people could stand in the bucket of ice water for twice as long as they could when they were alone. We can do more than we ever thought we could when we have an encourager. Sometimes just the thought of having a cheering section can motivate is to do new things.
My niece has recently become active in cross fit which is a kind of cross training program. She told the story of a cross fit competition she attended in Houston where a woman did very well during the entire program and all she had to do to best her personal time was do hand stand push up against a wall within three minutes. The problem was that she had never done one. When people in the gym realized what was going on, everyone stopped what they were doing and ran to cheer her on. They encouraged her as much as they could and while she couldn’t do it, she knew she had all the support of all the people. They were on her team. When my sister heard the story she said it made her want to do cross fit just to have that kind of a team. Who is on your team? And whose team are you on?
The second person we all need is someone who will challenge us. Hebrews 10:24. The word spur means to provoke, but in a good way. We all need people who will provoke us to love God and love others and even love ourselves so we can be at our best. When I lived in Altoona I had a roommate who was involved in campus ministry at Penn State Altoona and we not only tried to encourage one another but we also challenged one another and one day he truly challenged and provoked me.
I had struggled to set good limits on my time so had ended up working 7 days a week for weeks on end. I hadn’t taken a day off in a long time and I wasn’t planning on taking one that Monday because there was always something that needed to be done. My friend said, Andy you have to take a day off – you need some Sabbath rest and you do not need to go into work today. I wasn’t going to listen to him until he told me that if I decided to drive to work he was going to lay down on the driveway behind my car. I didn’t believe him so started to go to my car and he went with me and stood behind it ready to get down on the driveway. We argued for awhile, but I finally gave in and realized, he was right. I didn’t need to work that day. He was my challenger that day and while I didn’t like being provoked, he was 100% right.
We all need to someone who will provoke us to love God and others and care for ourselves and we also need someone who will hold us accountable to do good deeds and serve God. If you don’t have someone to do this, get someone on your team to provoke you, and when you are asked to help on someone else’s team, don’t say no, just do it. Who is on your team? Whose team are you on?
The last person we all need on our team is someone who will help us. Galatians 6:2. Carrying someone else’s burden requires time and energy. Helping is often an inconvenience because we have to sacrifice ourselves in order to do it. Are we willing to set aside our own lives, schedules and agendas in order to truly help someone else? One of the most moving examples I ever saw of this came from a woman names Rose McCommons.
Rose was a recovering alcoholic and committed to her ministry in AA. Rose was good friends and sponsor for another woman in the church named Kathy. When Kathy’s grandmother died many of us were concerned it would cause her to start drinking. When I attended the viewing, Rose was there and I overheard her say that she was going to be there for Kathy. Kathy said “thanks” and kind of shrugged it off but Rose said, No, I mean I am going to be HERE for you. I will be sitting here this afternoon and then I’ll go with you and get some dinner and tonight I will be back here and be with you until the end. After the viewing is over I’ll go with you to your home and then tomorrow I will be back and sitting right here. I am HERE for you.
I was so moved by Roses words because I realized that’s what it looks like to really help someone. She was willing to sacrifice her time and energy to be there for Kathy. She was going to carry her burden and help her through the hard times. That’s teamwork. We all need someone who will carry our burdens and we need to be willing to carry the burden of others. So let me ask you again. Who is on your team? Whose team are you on?
The church was never supposed to be a social gathering of casual acquaintances, or a group of people who came together once a week to worship. The church was to be a team of encouragers, challengers and helpers. We need teammates and while we can find them in many different places, this is a great place to start looking because we are all looking to run the race of faith, but we can’t be teammates if we aren’t willing to get to know one another and we can’t really know one another unless we are willing to get into some kind of small group to build those relationship. So let me be a challenger on your team today and suggest you begin to build a team by joining some kind of small group where you can get to know others.
You can join a Sunday School Class or Bible Study but you can also join a team and sing in the choir or ring in the bell choir. You can find teammates by serving in children or youth ministry, or you can be part of a mission team and serve at the Blessing of the Backpacks, go on a mission trip to Clearfield, or be part of a team that serves locally at the FaithCentre. Please, don’t go through life alone and don’t try to run the race of faith by yourself, you will get tired and you will fall down and you will want to give up. We all need a team to help us.
There is power in a team! We can do more than we ever thought we could when we are part of a team, so let me ask one more time.
Who is on your team?
Whose team on you on?
The Games – Teamwork
1. Who is on your team to Encourage you?
Whose team are you on as an Encourager?
An encourager is someone who walks alongside someone and cheers them on. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
2. Who is on your team to Challenge you?
Whose team are you on as a Challenger?
A challenger is someone who provokes us to love and good deeds and holds us accountable to running the race of faith. Hebrews 10:24, 12:1
3. Who is on your team to Help you?
Whose team are you on as a Helper?
A helper is someone who willing sacrifices to carry someone else’s burdens. Galatians 6:2