Together Has Power

by Andy Wood on July 9, 2008

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle

Lone RangerIt’s not enough to be a team player.  To get things done, to be a leader, you’ll have to be a team builder.  Together has great power, and an isolated Christian has a fool for a companion.

A Stanford Business School study bears that out.  Researchers examined the qualities that companies look for in promoting young managers toward senior executive positions. The study concluded that one of the most important qualities required for great success in leadership is the ability to put together a team and function as a good team player. Since all work is ultimately done by teams, and the managers’ output is the output of the team, the ability to select team members, set objectives, delegate responsibility and get the job done, was central to success in management.

That’s bad news for all the Lone Ranger types.  But hey, even he had Tonto!

Together has power in four dimensions:

1.  Synergy.
Synergy is the concept that one plus one equals three.  You can do the work of one, and so can I.  But together, we can do the work of many times more.  That flies in the face of conventional wisdom.  Maybe you can do it better by yourself in the immediate circumstances, but in the long run, it’s always more productive to go together.

You’re probably not going to hear this at church Sunday, so let me go ahead and tell you now:  Nearly every New Testament account of service, missions, or discipleship is in the context of groups and togetherness.  Every expression of the Great Commission was addressed to a group.  Nearly every encounter Jesus had was in the company of the disciples.  Paul nearly always described his ministry in the plural as well.  The primary focus of New Testament proclamation is that all believers are given a context of fellowship and cooperation for expressing God’s love to the world.  In short, there are no solo acts when it comes to loving the world to Christ or serving Him.  Whether it’s a children’s play or a global missionary enterprise, we are called to a corporate identity as a “city set on a hill,” to a unity that in and of itself reveals the gospel, and to a partnership that multiplies the effectiveness of our efforts.

“Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight,” Moses said (Leviticus 26:8).  I like those odds.  And I want to be the guy that gets the hundred people together!

2.  Strength.
“Two people are better than one because together they have a good reward for their hard work. If one falls, the other can help his friend get up. But how tragic it is for the one who is all alone when he falls. There is no one to help him get up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Sooner or later, you’re going to fall somehow – physically, professionally, financially, or spiritually.  Kinda hard to hang onto that macho image when that happens.  There’s just no such thing as a graceful public failure in this culture.  And when you do fail, there is precious little room for forgiveness or restoration.  So the conventional wisdom is, “Never let ‘em see you sweat, never let ‘em see you fret, and don’t do things they won’t forget.”

But to that kind of culture in which we live, Solomon says, “Don’t be alone when you fail, and don’t leave a failure alone.”

Two disciples of Jesus were failures.  One failed in public all the time – always some blunder for all to see.  He was always getting in trouble and being rebuked by Jesus.  Jesus just wouldn’t ease up on him.  And yet when Jesus started his church, this man was its unquestioned leader.

Another disciple was also a failure, but was much more of a loner.  He didn’t speak much, and when he did, it was often critical.  Something was going on in his heart, but no one knew it until it was too late.  He was alone when he fell, and there was no one to help him up.

The next time you see somebody who’s going down for the third time, or dangerously close to the edge, don’t leave him alone.  The next time you see somebody who’s hurting, don’t pass them by.  The next time you hear somebody tell you for the 10th or the 100th time about their problems, don’t roll your eyes and look at your watch and think, “Here we go again!”  Next time it may be you!  And the next time you see yourself slipping, quit playing the spiritual hero and TELL somebody!  If whatever you call fellowship isn’t a place where failures and people in pain can be themselves, leave.  Now.

3.  Safety.
If a person was traveling alone in the Middle East, nights were often very cold and dangerous.  He could die from exposure.  But if he traveled with someone else the two of them could share mutual warmth – that is, protection and support against a hostile world.

All of us are vulnerable from time to time.  Financial pressure, work stress, sickness, grief, success or loneliness can leave us exposed to stupid choices or dangerous thinking.  Conventional wisdom says, “I can take care of myself.”  God says, “Try it, and you’ll freeze.”  We all need someone who will recognize the danger and love us enough to be honest.

Two of the most loving words that can ever be said to you are, “Be careful.”  And the next time you see someone in danger, don’t leave them alone!  Be there!  They may not always appreciate it at the time, but they’ll thank you later.

4.  Success
Studies conducted among former American prisoners revealed what methods the enemy used most effectively in breaking their spirit.  They didn’t break down from physical deprivation and torture as quickly as they did from solitary confinement or from disrupted friendships caused by frequent changing of personnel.  Attempts to get the prisoners divided in their attitudes toward one another proved to be the most successful method of discouraging them.  Moreover, POWs gained their greatest strength, not from patriotism or “the cause,” but from the close attachments they had formed to the small military units to which they belonged.

Like it or not, you’re in a war, and there is power in standing together against our common enemy.  Conventional wisdom says, “I can fight my own battles!”  Satan says, “I’d like to see you try!”

You are most in danger from your enemy when you are isolated from your friends.  And if you wait until you’re faced with a blindside from the devil before you develop those relationships, you’re defeated before you ever start.
Let me get personal with you for a minute.

  • Who do you look to when you need help with the work you’re doing?
  • Who will you call on if “you’ve fallen and you can’t get up?”
  • Who have you opened yourself to, to warn you of possible danger?
  • Who would you call on in the midst of a spiritual battle?

Those who join themselves to others discover that together has power for synergy, strength, safety, and success.

Those who join others together into teams are the ones who will lead a new generation, either for good or evil.

Don’t you agree?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tree Newt July 10, 2008 at 6:51 am

Andy, isn’t this so hard to do in our culture? We put solo acts and individual efforts front and center in just about every area of life. We sensationalize a person’s “I did it my way” accomplishments. As a man, I think this idea, which IS so very counter to the Truth we see in Scripture, I think this led to many of my own failures and problems. I just wouldn’t ask for help.

Praise God that we don’t have to go it alone! Praise God that we, in the church, can hold each other up, can encourage and strengthen the weak parts in us all. Iron sharpens iron!

Tree Newts last blog post..Retraction and Apology

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