Six years ago I was in a new band, metaphorically at least. I could see the expertise and skills each member brought. I also knew, with certainty, of the gaps in my abilities and vision. I could see, work hard, and even die for the cause, yet if I was willing to work as part of an integrated community, even as a bit player, things would be greater than I could imagine. The questions I asked myself were simple. Was I willing? Was I open to being part of a team with strong players, some better and stronger than I was in key pieces of my job? Could I play the role of conductor, letting the individuals shine and take the spotlight? Did I have the confidence to trust teamwork over individual effort, determination, and discipline?
Candidly I don’t know if I always trusted the team. In the main I did. I am not sure if I had confidence in every member. Yet I let them play. I don’t know how willing I was to be part of something greater than my sight. It was a struggle which never completely left me. The process demanded my recommitment, sometimes on a daily basis.
I recall the alternative as I watched those around me. “Frustrated and famished, they try one thing after another. When nothing works out they get angry, cursing first this god and then that one, looking this way and that, up, down, and sideways—and seeing nothing, a blank wall, an empty hole. They end up in the dark with nothing.” (Isaiah 8.21, 22) Their efforts played out on a canvas where the picture never changed. They moved on without a mark. In some cases, there was little evidence of their steps and journey for others to remember.
I look back and marvel. The lessons are stark, vivid, and still remind me of life’s most important values and priorities.
Communities are stronger than individuals.
Teams accomplish more than the sum of the parts.
We achieve great things, I never do.
God, I am willing today.
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