Team Players: Four Qualities of Exceptional Team Players
Pastor Stephen Blandino
Through Scripture we find multiple examples of teamwork. Moses took his father-in-law’s advice to establish leaders over teams of ten, fifty, one hundred, and one thousand. Nehemiah led the Israelites to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem in only 52 days. And the disciples worked together as a team to distribute food to feed 5,000 people. Around every corner we see the value of teamwork. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”
At 7 City Church, we have three team values. We say, “We are servant leaders, team players, and hard workers.” Today I want to focus on our second value: team players. So what makes a great team player? Millions of teams exist, but what sets apart the mediocre player from the exceptional player? While you could create a list a mile long, four qualities stand out to me. These are the qualities we challenge team players at 7 City to exhibit.
Four Qualities of Exceptional Team Players
- Vision Supporters
Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” True team players leverage their God-given talent, influence, and resources to RUN with the organization’s vision, rather than run with their own vision. Team players privately and publicly, verbally and emotionally, prayerfully and financially support the vision.
7 City’s vision is to see cities transformed by inspiring community and influencing culture. To keep this vision in focus, we have to avoid vision drifting, platform building, and silo thinking.
Lou Holtz was the coach of the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team from 1986 to 1996. When Holtz arrived at Notre Dame, he removed all of the football player’s names from the back of their jerseys. He believed having the names on the jersey emphasized the individual over the team. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Holtz was asked about why he refused to put football player’s names on the back of their jerseys. Holtz said, "You're playing for ND, you're not playing for yourself. To win, it is always about putting the team first."
The greatest way we can put the team first at 7 City Church is by collectively rallying around the vision. It’s the God-given vision that unifies us. When we run together with the vision, we stay focused on what matters most.
- Relationship Builders
Team players care about the people they work with. They focus on building healthy working relationships by doing their best to move to the next level in their relationships with other team members. What are the levels of relationships? There are five of them.
If you want to climb the five levels of relationships on a team, practice these principles with each level:
- Level #1: I Feel Safe: Exhibit Trustworthy Behavior
- Level #2: I Feel Heard: Practice Active Listening
- Level #3: I Feel Affirmed: Speak Words of Life
- Level #4: I Feel Valued: Draw Out the Best in the Team Member
- Level #5: I Feel Loved: Be Committed to the Person, Not Just Their Performance
The book of Proverbs gives us great insight to support these key principles. The practice of trustworthy behavior is found in Proverbs 11:13: “A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” Proverbs 12:15 helps us practice active listening: “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Proverbs 12:18 shows us the importance of our words: “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.
When we draw out the best in others when we recognize the best in others (their strengths), and we release the best (providing opportunities to grow and exercise those strengths). Proverbs 27:17 highlights this principle when it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Finally, our commitment to love each other is found in Proverbs 17:17: “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.”
- Culture Enhancers
Culture is “the way we do things around here.” If you go to another country, you will bump into their culture the moment you step off the plane. You’ll encounter their governing structure, language, clothing, food, music, and a hundred other things that show “how they do things” in that country. Every organization has a culture too…a way of doing things.
Author and consultant Dr. Sam Chand says that a church’s organizational culture is like the personality of the church. When you meet a person, they don’t tell you what kind of personality they have. You just get to know what their personality is like by hanging around them. The same is true in organizations and churches. You get to know the personality – or the culture – of the church by hanging around it.
As team players, our role is to enhance the culture of 7 City Church by reinforcing values and actions that foster a healthy, life-giving environment. Four things will enhance the culture of the team you serve with at 7 City:
- Behavior: Personally Model Team Values – At 7 City, we are “servant leaders, team players, and hard workers.” These are the team values we play by. As you personally model these values, you reinforce the culture that 7 City is committed to developing.
- Attitude: Exhibit an Optimistic Mindset – Attitudes are like thermostats…they set the temperature for the room, the relationship, and the interaction. John Maxwell says, “Attitude…It is the ‘advance man’ of our true selves. Its roots are inward but its fruit is outward. It is our best friend or our worst enemy. It is more honest and more consistent than our words. It is an outward look based on past experiences. It is a thing which draws people to us or repels them. It is never content until it is expressed. It is the librarian of our past. It is the speaker of our present. It is the prophet of our future.”
- Collaboration: Work with the Team to Develop the Best Solutions – Team players understand the importance of working together to develop creative, fresh, and innovate solutions that will help the organization thrive. Team players aren’t worried about who gets the credit, but rather that the best solution wins the day. They collaborate together with creativity, candor, and care.
- Unity: Avoid Gossip and Protect the Cohesion of the Team – Proverbs 20:19 says, “A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.” Proverbs further states that there are seven things the Lord detests. One of those is “a person who sows discord in a family” (Proverbs 6:19). As team players, it is essential that we protect the unity of our team, guarding our hearts from gossip, division, and discord.
- People Developers
Great team players are always expanding the team. They never lose sight of their responsibility to develop and equip people. In Ephesians 4:11-12, the apostle Paul said, “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” And in verse 16 he says, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
Who are you helping to grow? How are you helping people do the “special work” God has created them to do? To develop people, take three steps:
- Encourage Team Members – See and cultivate the potential in others, and choose to believe in them.
- Equip Team Members – Provide the keys (resources, training, and coaching) for others to grow and thrive.
- Empower Team Members – Give others the green light by releasing opportunity and authority to them so they can use their gifts to make a difference.
Do these four qualities describe you as a team player at 7 City Church, and on the other teams where you serve? Are you a vision supporter, relationship builder, culture enhancer, and people developer? As we intentionally cultivate these qualities in our lives, we will add greater value to the team, and the team will be more effective in achieving its mission.
- On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate yourself as a:
- Vision Supporter
- Relationship Builder
- Culture Enhancer
- People Developer
- What is one step you could take this week to be a greater team player at 7 City Church?
- What is one step you could take this week to be a greater team player at your job?
Recommended Resource: The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork - John C. Maxwell
Building and maintaining a successful team is no simple task. Even people who have taken their teams to the highest level in their field have difficulty recreating what accounted for their successes. Is it a strong work ethic? Is it "chemistry"? What tools can you wrap your hands around to build? or rebuild? your team?
In The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, leadership expert John C. Maxwell shares the vital principles of team building that are necessary for success in your business, family, church, organization. He shares laws such as, “The law of high morale,” “The law of the big picture,” “The law of the scoreboard,” and the “The law of the price tag.” The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork will empower you, whether a coach or a player, teacher or a student, CEO or non-profit volunteer, with the "how-tos" and attitudes for building and being a successful team.
Something to Celebrate: 7 City Kids
Last month we concluded our “Family Funk” series with a special presentation by our 7 City Kids. After spending several days at Kids Fine Arts Camp, Pastor Ashley Blandino and Kayla Worsham led our elementary kids to perform skits, dance, and song. It was great to see their gifts on display as they discover how God has gifted them to serve. We also had eight people sign up to begin volunteering in our 7 City Kids environments. If you have not signed up and would like to invest in the next generation, contact Pastor Ashley or Susan Chrane today.