Disclaimer: The content of this post is partly derived from the input of other missionary wives who are also teammates. It is raw and realistic, formulated and written from lessons learned. Blessings and challenges alike were strikingly similar in different teams across the world.
To my dearest teammate,
First of all, I commend you! You made it; you are here! Imagine a celebratory scene of colorful balloons, flying confetti, and a triumphant burst of applause—that’s what my heart feels toward you! You agreed to embark on a journey that would require the relinquishment of all that is familiar and secure to you, and I respect you and appreciate you for it. Knowing that serving our King is as important to you as it is to me means the world!
A revolutionary British educator once said: “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life!” It struck me that there isn’t a more fitting description for teamwork!
Atmosphere of Safety and Growth
The atmosphere in which we work can influence the outcome of our efforts. My friend, I wish to cultivate a positive atmosphere where you can succeed as you learn, assess and grow in your own right. Where you can develop your own understanding on the dynamics of things here. I will always be available to guide whilst making a conscience effort not to control you.
It has been said that “Mastery lives atop a mountain of mistakes.” We will make our fair share and that’s alright. “Teamwork” brings extra meaning to the term “learning from our mistakes” as we will have the unique opportunity of learning form each others’ mistakes as well. That said, teamwork is rectifying our own mistakes while humbly extending help when a teammate makes theirs. We do this knowing our turn is just around the corner! There will be “AHA” moments for both of us as we look back and realize we misjudged or mishandled a situation. I am thankful that we can learn from each other in this atmosphere of grace.
I desire our team to be a place of safety in the margin of accountability. This means that, when a legitimate need for constructive criticism arises, it will be addressed in a spirit and manner that is truly edifying as apposed to “fixing” everyone who doesn’t operate within the boundaries of my wants. Our individual approaches may vary. One way to ensure unity is for each of us to submit ourselves to not only teaching in integrity, but also to being teachable and willing to learn in the process. We should make a conscious effort to protect the integrity of our team, and that only happens when each individual pays attention to developing their own integrity!
Grouping any number of people (sinners) together will inevitably give occasion for differences. We may, every now and again, step on each others toes, and that’s okay. For some time, depending on our positions, we may even operate from different contexts and perspectives. That’s understandable. We can learn from each other and seek to broaden our own perspectives while we guard against creating an atmosphere in which we must “walk on egg shells”. In committing to working on a team, I commit to doing inventory and evaluating whether or not my own presence is hindering my team from moving forward. If it is, I must then take the necessary steps to accomplish the necessary change.
Discipline of humility
Teamwork is a beautiful picture of surrender, what it means to prefer others above yourself. It is committing to serve quietly and humbly knowing the credit will not be given to you and rejoicing when it is given to another. It teaches the principle of “dying to self” to advance a cause greater than yourself. However, in a team setting we will more than likely become aware of our teammates’ strengths. This realization may shed light on our lack thereof! Insecurities can soar and envy can ensue. Let us help each other tend to that as we remind ourselves that we have been uniquely created and equipped with a specific set of skills and personalities. The Lord knows what He set out to accomplish through us, and it’s perfectly alright that we are not the same! The strength of a team lies in the unification of all the individual gifts and using it for- and not against- each other.
I think the world of you! I admire your strengths! You are far superior than me in so many ways! Can we leave it at that? Can we not ever entertain the idea of this is- in any way- being a competition? Can we bury the burden of comparison? May we encourage each other to reserve that energy— towards the ministry, towards growing in character and integrity and being the best servant we can be. I’m thankful for the emphasis that teamwork puts on selflessness. This is not about me, and that’s just how it should be. It is wise to remember that teamwork is the blessing of a shared load and requires a double measure of humility!
A life of service
As we join efforts in expanding God’s kingdom, we are committing to the goal of helping and supporting each other in that effort. Teamwork is serving! It may be helping when it’s not convenient and serving when it’s not personally beneficial, but it is always putting others before ourselves. Teamwork is a wonderful opportunity of learning how to live and think outside of our own little box.
I want you to know that I am here for you; I want to be a real friend—family away from family. I will offer comfort when you hurt and give grace when you hurt me. I will cheer for you, and I may make a few friendly suggestions when I know your choices are leading you amiss. I will respect you. I will love your family and “nurture” your young ones the best I can. I will honor the labour that you have done (and are doing) and I vow to love, respect and help your flock as you do ours. And, lastly, I will be careful to remember that the primary purpose of our unity is not mere moral support even though it is a blessing! The primary purpose of our unity is to accomplish the task at hand. Serving our King by sharing His Gospel and training others to do the same.
I leave you with a quote from John Maxwell: “ The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”