Serving Together

SERVING TOGETHER

God has a purpose for your life but never meant for you to fulfill that purpose by yourself.  The very first thing God said when He made man was, “It’s not good for man to be alone.”  We were made for community… fellowship… relationship. We worship together, fellowship together, grow together, and reach out together. We also serve together.

God put you on earth to make a difference.  He wants you to make a contribution with your life.  He wants you to give something back, to help somebody else.  That’s your ministry (service). In heaven you’re going to serve God.  How do you do that here on earth?  The only way is by serving other people.

“… agree with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose.  Phil. 2:2 (NLT)

We do this because:

1. WE’RE FAMILY“We work together as partners who belong to God.  1 Cor. 3:9a (NLT)

2. WE NEED EACH OTHER – Nobody is totally self sufficient.  

“… Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of Christ’s Body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?”   Rom. 12:5 (Message)

3. WE GET MORE DONEBeing on a team that will make you more effective in life.

“Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively.  Eccl. 4:9 (GN)

God often compares serving together and teamwork as gardening.

“The one who plants and the one who waters work as a team with the same purpose” 1 Cor. 3:8 (NLT)

Teams must be built; it takes effort.  Today we’ll look at an acrostic, ‘TEAM’.

WHAT IT TAKES TO SERVE AS A TEAM:

TRUST is the emotional glue that binds people together. Jesus, Paul, and others always served in teams.  One on Paul’s team was a young man named Timothy.  Paul said to him,

“Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.”  1 Tim. 6:20 (NIV)

You’ve got to trust people with some responsibility.  You can’t do it all yourself.  The quarterback cannot pass to himself. What do you need to hand off in your group?   You can help others uncover/discover… help release and empower them by trusting them with some responsibility.  That’s how you build a team.

“Many people claim to be loyal, but it is hard to find a trustworthy person.”  Pr. 20:6 (NCV)

If you want people to learn to trust you, you must do three things:

1.  BEING CONSISTENTPeople don’t like people who are always unpredictable.  They want people who are consistent, dependable, who you can count on to respond in certain ways.  The more consistent you are, the more people are going to trust you.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.”  Luke 16:10 (NIV)

It is in the little things in life, not the big things, that you prove your character.

2.  BEING CONFIDENTIAL“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Pr. 11:13 (NIV)

People want you to be able to keep a secret.  The Bible says avoid those who don’t and gossip.  Listening to them is like receiving stolen goods.  Also, know this: people who talk to you about other people are going to talk about you to other people.  Count on it. 

3. BEING CLOSE“Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” Pr. 17:17 (Message)

‘Stick together’ implies proximity.  It means you’ve got to be close.  You don’t trust people you don’t know and that takes time.  Notice, “Through all kinds of weather” and “In all kinds of trouble”, so “don’t forsake the assembling together of yourselves”.

The second key to building a team is EMPATHY

“Live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic.”  1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

You’re never going to have harmony until you’ve got sympathy.  Sympathy creates harmony.  Everybody needs empathy.  It meets two deep fundamental needs: to be understood, and to have your feelings validated.  How can you become a more empathetic person?  The Bible tells us three ways:

1.  SLOW DOWNConsider travel by: jet plane, Amtrak, driving a car, and walking.  The speed determines the level of detail you can notice.  If you sit down and do not move at all, you notice little bugs crawling and all kinds of things that you would otherwise miss. 

“Be quick to listen and slow to speak…” James 1:19 (NIV)

The human being can listen to about 650 words a minute but speaks only about 150 words a minute.  That leaves a 500-words-per-minute boredom factor… Most have small groups at night.  That means you’re rushing from work to get to small group and you’re running late and you’re on the cell phone and you’ve got your Wawa Burrito and you’re trying to eat it without spilling it on yourself.  Slow down: take a deep breath and go in and take it easy.  You’ll see more details. 

2.  ASK QUESTIONS“A person’s thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out.Pr. 20:5 (GN)

How do you draw it out?  Ask the question twice.  “How are you doing?”  “I’m fine.”  “No really, how are you doing?” and wait.  Ask, pause, and ask again.  The second thing is, be willing to linger.  Be willing to handle silence.  Stay in the present.  Stay right there. 

3.  SHOW EMOTIONS“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”   Rom. 12:15 (NAS)

You’ve got to be willing to cry with people.  Empathy is more than saying, “I’m sorry you hurt.”  Empathy is saying, “I hurt with you.”  You’ve got to stay filled up with God in your life; otherwise you’re going to get passion fatigue and run out of empathy.  If you get low on God, you’re going to just think about your own needs. 

The third key: ACCOMMODATEGod has made us all different – so we have to accommodate each others’ differences for Him.  When you make accommodation for somebody, you get them a room.  You give them space. We have members here who built this sanctuary for you because they cared about other people.  They accommodate other people. 

Many people in our church attend one service and then they work at another.  They come for two services to accommodate people.  That’s why people have left a comfortable small group where they felt cozy and comfortable, but went out and started a new small group just so we could accommodate new people.

“Be faithful, loving, and easy to get along with.  2 Tim. 2:22b (CEV)

Would the people closest to you say you’re easy to get along with?  That’s the real test.

The Bible says in Romans 12, “Do your part to live in peace with everyone as much as possible.”

You must be responsible for your part: don’t be cranky, critical, fearful, paranoid, etc.  Just do your part to get along with everybody as much as possible.  Aren’t you glad God realizes that some people are unpleasable?

4 specific ways that you and I can accommodate one another:   

1. We can accommodate EACH OTHER’S NEEDS“Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” Rom. 15:2 (Message)

You think, I don’t have enough time to take care of my own needs.  The truth is, you never will but here’s the incredible thing: while I can’t meet all my own needs, together, we can meet one another’s needs.

2. We can accommodate EACH OTHER’S IDEAS – “The intelligent man is always open to new ideas.  In fact, he looks for them.”  Pr. 18:15 (LB)

You can think, “That is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” or there is the possibility it might be a new way of looking at something, a different way than you’ve ever looked at it.

3. We can accommodate EACH OTHER’S PERSONALITIES – “God in his kindness gave each of us different gifts.  Rom. 12:6 (GW)

There’s the person who wants to have goals, and get work done.  There’s the person that just wants to have fun, and enjoy life.  They might work hard but their personality wants to have fun and enjoy life.  There’s the person who really wants to ask deep questions about life and discuss things.  There’s the personality that wants to make sure everybody’s getting along and everybody’s okay relationally.  God wants to use our differences to make a difference. 

4. We can accommodate EACH OTHER’S FAULTS – None of us is perfect.  We all have faults.

“Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Eph. 4:2 (LB) You get into a new group and you think, “Wow, this group is perfect.  This is great.”  It doesn’t take long to figure out, “These people have faults… San Andreas-type faults.”

What do you do when you figure that out?  You’ve got three choices:  You can fake it and pretend we’re all perfect, or say, “I’m getting out of this group to go find a perfect group” (NOT), or you can stay. Here’s the incredible thing about accommodation.  It sounds like that would somehow make us weaker, but it doesn’t.  It makes us stronger because it’s not just me; it’s us working together as a team.

The fourth thing that makes a team: MISSION Teams aren’t created just to exist for themselves.  They have to have a purpose.

…be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  Ph. 2:2 (NAS)

Here’s the question:  How are you going to maintain God’s purposes in your life?’  There’s one Biblical way:

“Let us not give up the habit of meeting together…but let us encourage one another.”  Heb. 10:25 (NIV)

Giant redwoods have incredibly shallow roots and should fall over in a storm or wind very easily.  So how do they stay standing strong?  Redwoods always grow in groves.  They intertwine their roots and hold each other up in the storm. That is a perfect picture of fellowship, or teamwork, of what God wants the church to be, or what God wants your small group to be.  We are a network.  You’re going to have all kinds of problems in your life that will knock you over if you’re on your own.  You need a group.

“Live in a way that brings honor to the Good News of Christ.  …standing strong with one purpose, working together as one for the faith of the Good News.” Phil. 1:27 (NCV)

Thousands of years ago, there was a group of people who decided to build a tower and got together as a team.  They were committed as a team and had a compelling purpose to build.  They had clear communication.  The only problem was, they began to worship the building itself so God wanted to kill the project because it became an idol. 

God would stop them by confusing their communication.  In that story, God says this about the power of team: “If as one people,” that’s a team, “speaking the same language, they have begun to do this.  Then nothing they plan will be impossible for them.” 

Now think about this.  God says when we have a committed team with a compelling purpose and clear communication, nothing will be impossible. He says we’ll be unstoppable. 

I believe that as we build small group teams within our church family where people find trust, find empathy, find their gifts and ideas valued and accommodated, and where they have a common clear mission, that with God’s help, nothing will be impossible. 

I invite you to pray this prayer: “Dear God, I don’t know You as much as I could but I do want to know You more – and I want You to use my life with other people in community, in a team.  I want to serve You by serving my teammates.  I open up my life to You.  I want You to use me.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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