Ok, for those of you that have never been involved in sports, you now have heard one of the phrases used by every coach, at every level in any team sport. It has become such a cliché' that often times players even smirk when they hear it, but guess what? If a team is to be successful, the individuals on that team really do have to give up some individuality. On a good team, everyone has a role to play. If each individual fulfills that role well, the team will perform well. The saying also means that a group of people, working together, can accomplish much more than one individual. Isn't it nice to know that all these coaches, whether they know it or not, use biblical principles to build successful teams? What do I mean by that? I'm glad you asked.
If you desire to serve the Lord, you are not going to do it alone. You will be a part of a team called the body of Christ. This concept is so important that Paul wrote extensively about it. Let's look at the scriptures concerning this subject so that we can understand our particular role on this great team. Look first at 1Cor 12:12-26. This will help you to understand that every part of the body is just as important as the next. What is really vital to understand here, is that whatever role God gives you to do in the body, is necessary for the body to function properly. We tend to think of certain roles, such as pastors or elders, as being way more important than others. This is not true. On a football team, the quarterback is viewed in this same way, but imagine if the quarterback has no offensive line to block for him. He cannot possibly be successful without those guys in front of him. In the same way pastors and elders cannot properly lead their churches without others in the church doing their part.
In 1Cor 12:27, Paul says "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a
part of it. This is where we begin. If you are a born again Christian (there actually is no other kind), you are a part of the body, period. You cannot be a "Lone Ranger" Christian. Read the verse again. The first you refers to all Christians. Paul says you are a part of that body. You became part of it when you accepted Christ. Now, the next question has to be, "what role do I play" in that body. This is where many people have difficulty, usually because they don't feel confident about their knowledge or abilities. Well, it is ok to feel that way, but don't leave it that way. If you're not confident about your knowledge, that is easy to fix. START STUDYING! Get into a good, in depth study of the Word. Study on your own. Go to church services that emphasize teaching of the Bible. Listen to sound Bible teachers on the radio or internet. There are so many resources available to help you in understanding the Bible that there is NO excuse for not learning God's Word.
The second part is not always as simple. Finding out what abilities God has given us can sometimes seem more difficult, but we need to determine this, so we can fill the role that God has specifically called us to. Good news, God has given us a way to help determine how best to fit in to the body. He does this by giving us "spiritual gifts". Paul talks about these spiritual gifts in two different sections of scripture. The first section is found in 1Cor 12:4-11and 27-30. Paul gives another list of spiritual gifts in Ro 12:6-8. Some people like to break these down into the categories of "natural or "supernatural" gifts. Either way you see them, they are given to you by God's grace (Ro 12:6). God has also given each of us talents that may not fit into these categories but can still help us determine what we can do to serve in the body of Christ. When we can determine what spiritual gifts we have and recognize what other talents God has gifted us with, then we can be successful in doing our part in the body. When we try doing things outside of our particular calling, we are usually not too successful and can often get discouraged. It can be painful to watch someone who is eager to serve the Lord, but tries to do it in a role that they are not gifted in. It is like trying to watch a player, who wants to play a position that they are not physically able to play successfully. Let me give you an example. I once had a young man on my football team who always wanted to play fullback. Unfortunately, he was not fast enough, nor agile enough to be successful at that position. I approached him with the opportunity to play on the offensive line, where I knew he could really help our team. Well, he wasn't real thrilled with being moved to the line, so I asked him "would you rather be a third string fullback or a
first string lineman"? His answer surprised me. He said that he preferred to stay at the fullback position, even if it meant that he was a third stringer rather than a starter. How sad. He hurt himself and the team by sitting on the bench, rather than being in the game. That is why you can't have an "I" in team. You need to be at your best position so you can be in the game and not sitting on the bench watching.
To be effective in the body of Christ means that you may not be in the role you thought you would be in, but ask yourself one question. Who knows better than God, where you fit in and where you will contribute most to the "team"? Follow His leading and His gifting and you will find that it brings great joy and fulfillment.
- Look up the verses which describe the spiritual gifts. You might even want to check out some books on the subject
- Think and pray about what other talents and abilities God has given you. This may mean abilities in athletics, music, drama, art etc. Think about ways that you might use these abilities for the glory of God
- Pray for God to show you in what capacity of ministry He can use your particular gifts.
- Give things a try. You might surprise yourself, but if you realize that something you try is not really for you, don't get discouraged. It's just one more way of finding out what you are called to do. 1Cor 14:12 tells us to try to excel in gifts that build up the church.
- Give thanks to God for the gifts he has given to you!
Until next time, may God bless, as you search out the place of service to the body that God has prepared just for you,