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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Working together works

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“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10 NIV

Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. spoke these words, which have always stuck with me, some years ago: “Together, we are better.” This is apropos in many aspects of life. In Ecclesiastes 4:9, its application is linked to labor. It points to working together for a successful outcome and helping each other up when down. It highlights the benefit of teamwork.

Teamwork is a key for success in many areas of life. A successful marriage takes a husband and wife working together. In sports, the team that works together wins over the team that does not. To have a successful business or community project often requires working together in the form of pursuing cooperative ventures.
Even the work of ministry takes teamwork to successfully fulfill its mission. The apostle Paul wrote of himself and Apollos, “we are laborers together with God” (1 Corinthians 3:9). Today, we also are partners cooperating, working together with God. We work together as a team in cooperation with a common purpose that has been set forth by God.

Team ministry, or working together as partners, is a biblical concept. The Godhead is the primary paradigm for teamwork. In making humanity, God stated “let us make man in our image and after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). In saving humanity, we see the Godhead as a team operationally in Ephesians 1:3-14 whereby the Father planned redemption in selecting us (verses 4, 5), the Son worked redemption in saving us (verses 7-11), and the Spirit applies redemption by sealing us (verses 13, 14).
There are two beneficial outcomes from teamwork: greater productivity and greater accomplishment.

The effect of a team working together can result in greater productivity through synergy. One person can produce a certain level of productivity, but synergy increases productivity by putting two or more workers’ efforts together. In essence, synergy is the concept that a team working together is greater and has a more powerful effect than what each team member can do separately at his or her best.

A greater accomplishment is possible by divvying up the collective workload of a team. This has been expressed in slightly different ways throughout the years. The principle is this: Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect.

The story of the paralyzed person in Mark 2:1-12 practically illustrates the power of teamwork. Theologically, this story contrasts the faith of four persons in Jesus’ ability to heal against the skepticism of the Scribes regarding Jesus’ authority to forgive sins. The practical ministry aspect of the story is how to get the helpless person the help needed. In this case, how to physically get the paralytic to Jesus.

We are presented with teamwork in action (verses 3-5). Notice the pronoun “they” is stated five times, which points to the power of teamwork. The four-man team carried the paralyzed man to where Jesus was, yet were prevented access because of the crowd. They undoubtedly conceived a plan, creatively worked around this obstacle and cooperated in getting the paralytic before Jesus.

It would have been extremely difficult to almost impossible for one man to carry the dead weight of the paralytic. Two men may have been able to carry and bring him to the house. It is possible that two or three men could get the paralytic up on the roof top. All four men working together made it more probable and much easier to carry the man, get him on the roof, remove the roofing and lower him down into the presence of Jesus to be healed and receive salvation.

It takes a team to accomplish certain things. We are better when we work together. Working as a team, we can achieve amazingly more than a group of individuals working their own thing.

Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is pastor of Citadel of Faith Church of God in Christ. Contact him via email at jabeaven@gmail.com or Twitter @jbeaven.

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