Leadership

Individual Talent is Overrated in the Team Building Process

Individual Talent is Overrated in the Team Building Process

With 6:45 left in the fourth quarter of the Eastern Conference Finals, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum caught the ball at the top of arc. He took four steps, as the Celtics were down 71-67 to the Cavaliers, and rose up and dunked over LeBron James.

The TD Garden went nuts — as well as my living room 1,614 miles away. Moments after this iconic moment, Tatum bumped LeBron with his chest … and it was on. Every Celtics fans could sense that this Game 7 would end with a celebration in Boston.

But, in typical LeBron fashion he ended the game scoring 35 points and the Cavs beat the Celtics 87-79. The next day however provided a silver lining for Celtics fans.

The Celtics were a few minutes away from playing in the NBA Finals. They accomplished this without their two best players — Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward — who had season ending injuries. Many believed the Celtics could win an NBA Championship the next year.

The same Celtics team came back for the 2018-2019 season paired with the addition of a healthy Irving and Hayward. Expectations were high! So high that in my years of being a Celtics fan this hype was second only to the 2007-2008 season that ended in Banner 17.

Yet, things shifted ever so quickly. Twenty games into the 2018-2019 season the Celtics were 10-10. They played like they hated each other. They had no chemistry. They had no heart. The most disappointing Celtics season in my lifetime ended with an early playoff exit.

On paper, this team was as talented as any team in the league. They were the most talented Celtics team since 2007-2008, but their talent alone could not carry them. They had a team of 15 individuals who were great basketball players, but as a team they struggled to function correctly with one another.

Ultimately, a team comprised of talented individuals failed as a team.

In organizations we lead or are a part of, the same can be true. There’s a desire to collect the most talented or most experienced individuals.

Within the Local Church, this may look like we’re trying to find the best singer to be the Worship Pastor. We look for the best communicator to be the Pastor. We look for the most personable or charismatic person to lead students or kids.

While talent and experience are desired traits in building personnel for a team — they should not be our main identifiers (especially within the Church). In building a team there are three qualities each individual must have within their DNA.

The Good Ole' Days

The Good Ole' Days

Despite the 45-year age difference, two of the closest people in my life are my grandparents. Our relationship goes far beyond the occasional trips or calls. There is a genuine love for one another.

This type of grandchild-grandparent relationship is rare, especially as both parties get older. Growing up, I would spend most of my days with my grandparents as my mom worked multiple jobs a day to provide for us. The more time I spent with my grandparents, the more I interacted with their peers — or what I used to call them — “old people.”

I pulled pranks on my grandparent’s peers, and I lost my weekly allowance to their late night card games. I accompanied them as they went to nursing homes. They gave me money (…$1…) to negotiate at the local flea market for the sports item I inevitably wanted. I illegally sat and played Keno at the Coffee Shop. I even took up the hobby of reading the newspaper.

I was 12-years-old going on 65-years-old — and I loved every minute of it … for the most part.

The more I was around the older generation, the deeper the stories got. I’m fairly certain 90 percent of their stories were fabricated for story-sake. I can confirm 99 percent of my grandfather’s stories are. There are cousins in our family who think he was in the mob!

The stories eventually turned to conversations about old houses, food and automobiles.

“When I was your age, I could get a hamburger and a soda for 10 cents. Those were the good ole’ days.”

“A brand new car cost $2,000. Those were the good ole’ days.”

“My first house cost $10,000. Those were the good ole’ days.”

In the beginning, I nodded my head as I anxiously waited for the next topic of conversation. As I got older, it clicked, and I learned about inflation. So, I always made sure to interject this to their stories:

“But, didn’t you only make a few thousand of dollars a year? We make more today, so everything costs more.”

I knew once I said that the conversation would change!

The statement ‘the good ole’ days’ feels innocent by nature. It’s a fun conversation — especially with those older than 60-years-old.

The slippery slope of this statement and perspective comes in when we magnify it on to the Local Church. Through conversations with church leaders and personal experiences, the mentality of this statement often places immovable obstacles in a local church experiencing change.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, this statement usually coincides with style differences (music, dress, service, etc.), a pastoral change, or in regards to the vision of the church.

The Book of Ecclesiastes is an interesting one. The author, Solomon, paints a painful reality of life from his perspective. It’s a perspective of ups and downs — and about everything else in between. Here’s what he said:

When You Know it's Time to Leave Your Church

When You Know it's Time to Leave Your Church

If you’re a church-going believer, there inevitably will come a time when you will transition from one church to another.

Depending on your church background, this could be both a strenuous spiritual assignment and a difficult practical task. While I don’t advocate “church-shopping” or frequently leaving churches in general, I do understand that there’s a season and time for everything.

Frankly, it’s incredibly rare for anyone to attend one church for their entire life.

The local churches you see in a community today are widely diverse. It’s fascinating to see the differences in churches that are mere miles away from one another. With such diversity, it’s not uncommon to leave one church one day and drive down the street to try out another church the next week in order to find a church home.

The lifeline of a local church can be exhausting.

There are seasons within the local church that are exciting followed by seasons of stagnation. No church is immune from this. There are new trends and approaches that come and go. On average there are pastoral changes every six years (per LifeWay). There are moments of supernatural God encounters and times you feel like God is non-responsive.

These reasons often lead to a mass exodus of people. When people start leaving, everyone who hasn’t left notices. In these moments, naturally anyone begins contemplating whether or not it’s their time to transition to another church.

So, let’s look at some reasons you should consider leaving your church.

The Local Church and Abortion

The Local Church and Abortion

The intertwining co-existence of government and personal faith have rarely worked in each other’s favor. Yet when I look at Bible, I dare to hope for an answer for us as the Local Church today. No one is hopeless when it comes to the issue of abortion. 

With Scripture as our source for living, we are not without examples of what to do when our hearts are burdened to the point of grief. In times of despair and disheartenment, Jesus prayed. So, we pray. In the midst of political chaos and uproar, Daniel fasted. So, we fast. We affirm with the Old Testament prophets, voices speaking up for the innocent. So, we shout and proclaim truth. 

But when the passion of our boiling blood settles to a low heat and the topic fades into the back of the news headlines, when we feel helpless and possibly unable to enact immediate change, when the attentions of our routine life steal the importance of this issue which has bounced back and forth in the realm of focus for decades – where do we stand beyond the short-term? 

During government-ordered abortions in Exodus Ch. 2, we see a combination of responses from people of faith, just like us. Midwives Shiphrah and Puah were not compliant and equivalently protested. Moses’ sister watched, waited and offered guidance in the right direction. Moses’ mother served in the gap to ensure life was guaranteed.

Just as I see examples of faith giants in the age of abortion thousands of years ago, I also see a model for consistent long-term action on our end as The Local Church. We’ve each as a body been sovereignly assigned people within our care outside of the church doors. Today we typically call this a community. 

To our community, our preaching may fall on deaf hears. Our words may be misunderstood. But, there are godly solutions. Here are ways we can build for great Kingdom impact in addition to our devotions and disciplines of prayer, fasting, and proclaiming:

Pastors Were Never Meant to Know Everyone

Pastors Were Never Meant to Know Everyone

For one year, Kayla and I actively served on the Kids Team at a church in Baton Rouge, LA. We asked to be scheduled twice a month -- and in some cases three times. Although this commitment was more than expected, we loved it that much.

The more we were around and served, the more the leaders engaged with us. We knew the Kids Pastors and staff more than just a quick "hello" on a Sunday morning. We often talked about the church, the vision, and how we were challenged by the messages.

During our entire time serving and attending this church we never once had a conversation with the Lead Pastor. We never even shook his hand. 

... and I thought this was normal!

I had no church background prior to attending this church. When I committed my life to Jesus, I started attending a church, reading my Bible, and eventually serving. Through my discovery of Christianity and my experience at that church, I never expected to know the pastor personally.

Fast forward six years -- a couple of new churches -- and many personal conversations later and I've realized my prior expectation is in the extreme minority. In fact, I've often heard this popular statement: "I just need to go to a church where I know the pastor."

Can I lovingly nudge your perspective for a few paragraphs? My suggestion is that despite what we may think, pastors were never intended to have a close relationship with every person in their church.

I think that this perspective correlates with the fact that 90 percent of churches stay less than 200 people in attendance. I don't fault people for desiring a close relationship with other people -- however our expectations that the person should be our pastor is misguided.

Let's think about it.

The first pastor in the Bible was Moses. It was physically impossible for him to be close with his people. Why? There were millions of them. In fact, so overwhelmed by the administration of leading millions, his father-in-law suggested he develop other leaders to meet the needs of the people.

When Jesus arrived on the scene, many instantly decided to follow Him after witnessing His teachings and signs. As His followers increased, He always stayed close to his 12 disciples.

When the Church exploded on the scene in Acts, we quickly see the apostles couldn't handle everything and everyone. They had to raise up team leaders (elders) to lead areas of ministry.

As Paul started planting churches, he would arrive to towns, preach the Gospel, develop leaders and leave. As the churches continued growing, they continued to develop leaders. It's why Paul spent most of his time writing letters to leaders and churches. There was no way Paul could personally know everyone -- even in churches he personally planted.

In fact, the roles God assimilates in the church -- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers -- were designed for this one functionality.