Archives For teamwork

I’m no scholar.

I’m no dummy, either (I think).

Almost 20 years ago, I accepted Christ while recognizing his great love offered for me. It was simple to me. I needed help and he was there. I took the step and I’ve never looked back since.

As I’ve grown as a Christian and naturally in age, I’ve come to recognize that not everything in life makes sense to me. Not that I don’t seek the great answers to life and even some of the smaller ones, I have just come to realize that God knows and I am generally okay with that. One thing that I do realize is that the more I try to figure it out by myself, the more confused, alone, and lost I feel. Like the show, LOST, the characters struggle to fight their way on “the island” individually versus bonding together. It is a common theme in the entire six seasons of the show. I love that show because it is a central theme of life. Alone we are lost. Together, we are one.

The classic line from Jack, the hero of the show is,

If we can’t live together, we’re gonna die alone.

Early in my Christian life, God instilled the verse Ephesians 4:3 NIV in me, especially remembering it whenever I was in any petty argument or witnessed one in the church.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.

Every time I read it, it hits me like a brick.

God commands us to make every effort. Not to fight each other. Not to live alone. But to keep the unity no matter what.

I am far from qualified to speak of or have any sort of wisdom in how to heal this but God showed me something recently that made more sense of it.

I was at a great friend’s father’s funeral this past weekend. While waiting for the service to begin, I looked around at the wide variety of people in the sanctuary. They were all over the midwest; from various economic, faith and cultural backgrounds. Despite this ragtag group’s looks, they came together in remembrance and celebration. They were unified in love and thanks for a great husband, friend, father, and son. It was beautiful like a glimpse of heaven. Next we all recited something magical.

As Christians, most of us have read the Apostles Creed. I was moved because I believe that God gave it to us through some brave men of faith in the early church to remind us of what matters most. My friends, whether they be Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, or any other Non-Denominational variety can all pretty much agree on this creed and most recite it on a regular basis in their own churches. I wish we all could live this creed with the thousands of churches that are in this wonderful yet fallen world. Imagine what we can do together.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.

Can you imaging if we read this everyday?  Read it out with me my Christian brothers and sisters. We will feel one together before our God and can serve better as one because of it.

Live together or die alone.

Recently Brooke and I saw Mumford and Sons at the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  I’d been a fan of theirs for a while but the experience seeing them live is something I will not forget.  There were a few things that stuck out but one in particular.

They seemed to love what they were doing and here is why:

  • There were smiles and laughter during the entire evening by all.
  • Their harmonies reinforced that they are not centered around one person.
  • They invited locals to play with them to bring connection to the community.
  • They invited the audience to be a part of what they were doing and were gracious
  • They danced, they were loud, and gave an unforgettable experience
Bottom line is that they seemed to be doing exactly what they were meant to do.

The day of the show, the band had flown to Nashville all the way from London, England. They must have been exhausted from the trip and I can imagine for any band that a live show can be a drag when you are not sleeping much. They didn’t show any discontent whatsoever and seemed incredibly excited to play at The Ryman. I learned that Mumford and Sons perform like this at every show. It is now weeks later but their joy and enthusiasm stays with me.

What if in life I approached all things this same way as Mumford? 

Life is not always the same type of art but can we aspire for that same type of joy? 

I have plenty of friends going through very difficult circumstances so a post like this could be interpreted as insensitive.  I’ve learned through time and through the Bible that I should expect trials and suffering. Personally life is not particularly easy now but compared to so many others, all is well in perspective. It is draining when you are going through any sort of pain but when you stop to look up and around you, you can see the light. I have a friend at work who said her nine-year old son was so worried about life, especially dying. I remember having strange feelings like that as a kid. It seemed irrational to me now but then it felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. Even with little responsibility, there is something about us that wants to worry and dwell on the negative. What does it get us?

I have noticed a common ebb and flow in life. It is an up and down of emotions and it is easy to get trapped in a valley. Just watch cable news and you’ll be never escape it. Some stay in that valley longer than others but in my experience the more I dwell on the fact that I’m in a rut the longer I stay there. James reminds us in this way in his epistle.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.-James 1:2-4 (NIV)

It’s a reminder that we’re not meant to live an easy life.

There is a reason for our pain because God refines us in the process and shows us what joy is meant to be. I want to live with joy the way God designed me. It has caused me to listen carefully to him for when he whispers through my experiences. C.S. Lewis reminds us,

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.-The Problem of Pain

Next time I am feeling down I will be reminded of that Mumford and Sons night, go to prayer, read God’s word and find that joy.

It comes down to a choice. Choose joy.

When I was 8 years old my family moved across town in Kansas City and found a lovely house that sat above the first hole of an executive (shortened) 9 hole golf course.  Like most kids that age, I was playing soccer, baseball, basketball, and tennis.  Later I even tried football. I was doing way too much but my parents were just trying to test out what I enjoyed and fit me best.  My grandparents that year bought me my first set of golf clubs to try out this new sport.  Thankfully we had a tremendous local junior golf program and I began that journey.

I was truly  hooked at 11 when I played my first golf tournament outside of that course.  It was the United Commercial Travelers Junior Golf Tournament qualifier for the state of Missouri.  It was a mere 9 hole qualifier and the night before the area received a lot of rain, which discouraged many players from even showing up.  The field ended up being about a dozen golfers qualifying to go to the national tournament in Victoria, British Columbia.  I can’t even remember what I scored that day but it was enough to earn the victory and get a free trip to Canada for the tournament.  My dad accompanied me on that memorable trip.

I remember thinking, “Wow, all golf tournaments must be like this.  Winning is pretty awesome.”

I remember not playing very well in Canada but what it did do was hook me into the game and so I began giving up other sports one by one.  The person who taught me golf told me I had to either quit baseball or golf, my swing would be mess unless I did so.  My summers became filled with traveling around Missouri and Kansas, playing in golf tournaments and spending endless hours practicing on the driving range and putting green.  Golf to me was perfect for my personality at the time.

Individual.

Me versus the course.

Me versus the others.

It thought it was perfect.

My college days playing for The University of Evansville

When high school came along I played on the school team.  For the first time in my life I was part of a team.  A golf team?  It is an individual sport, right?  If you have seen The Ryder Cup or The President’s Cup you usually witness a spirit among those players that is unlike any other time in their individual tournaments.  You will see high fives and cheers for each other in individual matches to succeed as well as select formats of two-man best ball and alternate shot.  In team golf there are still individual awards for lowest score but the most important prize goes to the team that wins.

I was hooked.

Throughout high school and eventually in college golf I was a moderate success on an individual basis.  There are 5-6 players that play in tournaments and I was usually the #3-#5 player.  I don’t recall any major wins individually but I do remember every big win our team made.  Even on a day I had a double-eagle in a high school tournament, what was more prominent is that our team, the Webster Groves High School “Statesmen” won that tournament and eventually went on to the state championship tournament. I was elected Captain of the team so it was my duty and pleasure to celebrate that feat. It felt amazing.

The 1997 Webster Groves HS “Statesmen” golf team

Life can be an individual journey. It is your life to live.  But you can’t live it alone and you surely cannot succeed without others.  Even professional golfers have a team of people with them to motivate, teach, and even just listen to them. Most of us in our jobs today work on an individual basis. That mentality is wrong. Look at any successful person in life and you’ll discover their teams.

I love the teams I’m a part of today: My team at work, my church St. Bartholomew, my men’s group, my close friends from Young Life, friends in Kansas City, St. Louis, Evansville, and Nashville, and I would be lost as can be without my family.

My last hole in my college golf was memorable for the most inglorious reason. I duck-hooked my drive into a lake and ended up with double-bogey. I remember being mad at myself because I felt like I let the team down.

I was blessed to graduate a semester early and later the team won a big tournament that spring. That is what I remember most. I’ll take the Ryder Cup competition any day.

Tell me about your teams.