So far the most rewarding thing in my life has been to thrill as watching my sons live their lives for the Lord.
Some of you, many of you, well, actually most of you know that they have both chosen to be in a paid ministry role at this point in their lives. Last month I spoke on a program with my son Andrew who is the youth minister at Woodson Chapel in Brentwood and this week I got to speak on one with my son Philip who is the youth minister at Mount Juliet in Tennessee. What a thrill. Philip sent me the notes from one of his lectures at PtP and saying it sounded like something that would work well as a post. So here it is. He was asked to speak on being a team player in ministry. By the way, if Philip ever starts his own blog he should call it "From the Odd Mind of Philip Jenkins"
In honor of my favorite team player of all time, here are 23 Reasons to be a Team Player.
1. (Penny Hardeway) A team player never says: That’s not on my job description. I’m not doing it. The elders can’t tell me to do that! It’s not on my job description.” I’ve got news for you: If this is your attitude, you’re not going to be in ministry very long. That’s a guy who doesn’t understand ministry. Because guess what? Two things: one, you will never be able to put all of the things you will do in ministry onto a piece of paper. And two, that unfair expectation that’s been put on you? In a way, you did sign up for it. Your job title is “minister” and the word minister means “servant.” Servants are all about serving in whatever capacity that they can.
2. (Derek Jeter) Makes the rest of the players on his team better. That’s what made Jordan so great, wasn’t it? He made them play to the best of their ability. There was a high standard to live up to on the court. Are you making ministry more enjoyable for the rest of the players on your team? Are the other guys on the team built up by your example, by your work ethic, and by the way that you treat others?
3. (Babe Ruth) A team player is unselfish. For those of you who associate Michael Jordan with the Washington Wizards, you’re not going to get this. Jordan had to be selfish on the Wizards. Who was he going to pass the ball to? Seriously. Can you name more than one player that played with him on the Wizards? The Jordan most of us grew up watching had guys to pass the ball to. A lot of people forget that Jordan was a very unselfish player. Horace Grant, BJ Armstrong, Robert Horry, Steve Kerr, Scottie Pippen, and of course, the Croatian Sensation: Toni Kukoc. A team player doesn’t care about how many people acknowledge him when he does a good job. He’s unselfish.
4. (Lou Gehrig) A team player is an encourager. Barnabas is probably one of the best team players in the Word of God. He was so good at encouraging others that he earned a nickname. By the way, we had a girl in the youth group whose last name is Bass, and she is like the most encouraging person ever, so she is now known as Barnabass. A team player understands how vital that encouragement can be to the team, because he’s been the one who’s needed that very same encouragement himself. Hebrews 10:24 Let us consider how to stir one another up unto love and good works.
5. (Joe DiMaggio) A team player does all without grumbling and complaining. Do this today. Get on Facebook or Twitter (Twitter is even worse in my opinion), and just look at the number of things that are posted that are nothing more than people complaining. I would venture to say that 70% of all posts are people complaining. It’s annoying. See? I just complained… Philippians 2:14 “Do all things without complaining or disputing.” (Perhaps the most commonly committed sin that people are committing without even knowing it! I’ve got to take the flack for this, too! It’s become the norm of our society!
6. (Bill Russell) A team player doesn’t care who gets the praise, because they know it belongs to God. It surprises me how many ministers would rather talk about what their church is doing than what their God is doing. The glory is God’s for the taking. Remember when Herod was eaten by worms in the book of Acts? The Bible tells us it happened because he did not give glory to God. How many of us could be dead right now because of the same reason? Proverbs 21:31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But deliverance is of the LORD.
7. (John Elway) A team player is humble. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; (Colossians 3:12)
8. (Kobe) A team player realizes that some things really aren’t about him! Youth ministers, maybe the kids liked the youth minister before you. That’s great! What a blessing that he was able to minister to them in some kind of way. Don’t take it personally when they tell stories about him, and when they give him a giant hug when he walks into the room. Don’t make that about you. It’s not about you. It’s about ministering to teens to the glory of God.
9. (Drew Brees) A team player does what’s best for the kingdom. This point is broader than how I’m going to apply it, but have you ever thought about how difficult it must be for a coach to know when it would be better for the team if he were to move? It has to be hard. Maybe they’re not as effective as they once were, maybe the players aren’t listening to him, or you’ve got others campaigning for a new guy to come and do things that you can’t do. I can say what I’m about to say, but I’m not sure I’m humble enough to live it out: we’ve got to do what’s best for the team. That might mean it’s time for you to move on or to transition into a different ministry. Pray for wisdom in those situations.
10. (Pele) A team player doesn’t have to get his way. It’s refreshing to meet people who are willing to understand God’s will. There will be times when the elders don’t agree with you on something. How will you handle it? Will you whine or will you consider that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t God’s will for you to get your way!
11. (Mark Messier) A team player understands that there are things you can do that nobody else can do. Only you can save your own soul. You might be the only one who has the relationship with that teen where you’re able to talk to him about his life. You might be the father figure that a teenaged boy never had. There are some people that it’s up to you to reach. There are some things that only you can do.
12. (Tom Brady) A team player understands that there are things that others can do that you can’t do. Yes there are some things that only you can do, but you’re not the only one who can do things. Youth ministers, stop being a control freak and let the church be the church for your teenagers! Seek ways to allow God’s people to impact and influence the youth group.
13. (Wilt Chamberlain) A team player understands that some can do it better than you can. A Godly Christian woman can say things to a teen-aged girl you cannot. A parent can say things that you cannot. A grandparent can say things you cannot. An elder can say things you cannot. In some cases, you can say things, but have you considered that it might make an even greater impact be if it came from someone else?
14. (Bob Cousy) A team player sees the big picture. (That takes a heavenly perspective. You might win a battle in dealing with a conflict, but end up losing the war.
15. (Bart Starr) A team player is open-minded to opportunities. Before you respond with “I’m too busy,” pray about it.
16. (Joe Montana) A team player helps others succeed. Brag on your teammates. Your preacher needs to know that you support his ministry and believe in him. Encourage him privately and publicly.
17. (John Havlicek) A team player celebrates with his teammates. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” Celebrate with the guy on your ministry team who had a successful retreat. Celebrate with the teenager who just became a Christian. Celebrate with the youth group when you reach out to someone who needed reaching out to. Celebrate with a family who has just had a newborn. Celebrate with God’s team, the church, when you do something amazing to the glory of God. And remember, it’s not about you!
18. (Peyton Manning) A team player does what it takes to get the job done. If that means staying up until 2am, or sticking around a little longer after the amen is said, or talking to a kid on the phone at midnight when they’re in a crisis, or sending 1000 text messages a week, or writing a bulletin article even though it wasn’t your week to write, or answering the phone at the office, or helping with a benevolence situation in the office, or attending an elders meeting that popped up last minute. This stuff is time consuming. Do it anyway. If it matters, do it.
19. (Johnny Unitas) A team player knows that a dropped ball hurts the team. It’s a poor reflection on the church when people ask for help and we don’t give it to them. And I’m not talking about every financial or benevolence situation. I’m talking about when people say, “Hey, my kid is doing drugs and I don’t know what to do,” or “I just need someone to talk to,” or “Can you get me a copy of that sermon? I’ve got a friend who could really use it). We ought to be ashamed when a ball gets dropped. We’ve let down the team and our teammates.
20. (Barry Sanders) A team player remembers that his own actions affect the team. I’m not sure that a lot of professional athletes get this one. When they get arrested at a strip joint at 3am because of an altercation, it affects the team. When they make an error in judgment, when they step on a guy after the play is over, when they go into the stands swinging their fists, when you take off your skate and try to stab somebody, there will be consequences. When we make errors of judgment in ministry, it affects the team. The ministry team and you’d better believe it affects the church.
21. (Roberto Clemente) A team player knows when to ask for help. You can’t handle every situation that comes to you by yourself. Ask for help. “Hey, how should I approach this?” What should I say in this situation? What would you teach if you were doing a lesson on this?
22. (Emmitt Smith) A team player doesn’t quit on the team. I have an image burned into my mind whenever I think about Randy Moss. He quit on the play he didn’t even run. Guess who else remembers that? The guys that played with Randy Moss on the field that night. Work hard for the Lord.
23. (LeBron…nope. There’s only one 23: Michael Jordan) Here’s everything you need to know if you’re not a team player: NEITHER WAS JUDAS.