“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” ~ Romans 16: 17
When I was approaching my teenage years, I have a distinct memory of my parents telling me that they hoped I would play basketball for the many things it offered just by nature of being a team sport.
I heard their words: Goal setting. Seeking a mission. Team work.
I heard their words, but I am not so sure how much I appreciated them even as my high school and collegiate careers were dominated by team sports participation. At the time, I did fully grasp working hard, getting better, improving my strength and skills, understanding the game, and going after championships alongside my teammates. Ten years of my life were immersed in a life of team sports ~ basketball, field hockey, and, my favorite, lacrosse.
Even as my teams worked together and achieved our goals, I am sure I did not completely comprehend just how important being part of those groups was to my adult life as wisely as my parents did. Not until years after my lacrosse stick was hung up and my cleats put away forever, did I begin to realize how learning to be part of team is so crucial in life.
Whether it is a partnership, a marriage, a company, a staff, an orchestra, a club, an organization, a family, or any the groups that make society run successfully and smoothly, I understand greater than ever how individual mindset about team matters.
When everyone is doing their part, working hard, being positive, supporting each other, the most unbelievable and incredible things are possible. Any group of people can overcome great obstacles when each team player resists the temptation to do the things that distract, detour, and even derail them from their purpose, and instead, becomes dedicated to something bigger than ourselves.
Unfortunately, as preached in the passage above, it only takes one individual who does not have team spirit, to completely begin the its destruction, creating discord and division in direct conflict with the mission of the group.
Any coach or player, at some point in his or her career, will be most likely have experienced what is often referred to as a “team cancer”. It is that person or group that actively undermines what the team is hoping to achieve. It is insidious in that is often not open behavior, but done secretly in whispers and in corners. It can be complaining about the coach, bad mouthing other players, not following team rules or expectations, and disrupting any attempt at harmony among its members.
I am fortunate as a player to not have had to witness too many team cancers in my decade as an athlete ... but saw just enough to know that, not only is it very hard to win this way, it also robs even a team that has a losing or difficult season of a once-in-lifetime opportunity to face and overcome challenges as part of pack banding together through rough times.
Believe it or not, even without the wins and championships, beating adverse circumstances aligned toward a common good is a worthwhile mentality and endeavor that has lifelong implications.
In my life, I see more clearly as an adult why my parents, partners who are going on almost 60 years of marriage having raised nine children, desired that I embrace being part of a team. The joy of winning was awesome and has given me great pride and wonderful memories. But living and lasting is the understanding of how important it is to work together and devote only words and deeds that will drive any “team’s” mission to success, be it at work, home, play, or any area of our lives.
Anyone or anything that damages the team, the marriage, the organization, the family, or any group seeking something good and noble in this world ….anyone or anything that creates discord, divides, derails,ultimately destroys...cannot have a place on our court if we want to experience the joys, blessings, and wins of a life that inevitably involves struggle.
We need to learn and teach the value of team, and, as indicated in Romans, be mindful that not everyone will always be on board. It is best keep away from those intent on threatening the success of the group by undermining its members and its mission.
They will likely never know something my parents did years ago.
There is joy in taking one for the team:)