Good teams are characterized by synergy. A simple definition of synergy is this: “when working together, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Coach, you likely use another word for synergy: teamwork.
We’re starting this year by looking again at four biblical values that FCA desires to be defined by, and that we believe are foundational to being the most effective, Christ-honoring coach you can be. So far we’ve talked about integrity and serving. The third value is teamwork, and this value is just what the word suggests: working together as a team toward a common goal in such a way as to produce synergy – the whole (the team) is greater than the sum of the parts (individual players).
Every coach wants their team to be characterized by the synergy of great teamwork. But how does this happen?
In Philippians 2, the Apostle Paul teaches that unity with one another (teamwork) comes from “being united with Christ” (Phil. 2:1) and looks like “being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (Phil. 2:2). Here is how FCA’s book on Teamwork articulates this value: “Teamwork means to work together with others and express unity in Christ in all our relationships.”
How does this become a reality? Les Steckel, who coached football at the high school, college, and professional levels, says that there are five “C”s that go into the best experience of teamwork:
- Communication – Strong teamwork requires open and honest communication, and open and honest communication is built on trust. Trust happens only as players build relationships with each other. According to Steckel, “Time together equals trust.”
- Cooperation – Says Steckel, “Cooperation is far more than just getting along. Denying yourself is a way of cooperating. It’s losing yourself for the cause.” This takes us back to Philippians 2 where we’re pointed to the heart behind cooperation: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (vv. 3-4)
- Contribution – Teams that live out the value of teamwork recognize that every single player has an important role to play. In comparing the church to a body, 1 Corinthians 12 says, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body… God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (vv. 12, 18). Similarly, a team is made up of a variety of parts. Each person’s contribution is needed and genuinely appreciated.
- Commitment – The author of FCA’s book on Teamwork writes, “Once each team member understands and accepts their role, the next step is for each member to make the commitment to excellence and to give it their best.” Dynamic teamwork happens when each player is committed to one another and the goals of the team. They are “one in spirit and purpose” (Phil. 2:2).
- Christ – This is not a final step. Rather, Christ is the center of all. When we are “united with Christ” by faith (Phil. 2:1), our desire is that our “attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). Living for Christ through reflecting his attitude and actions brings about the deepest level of communication, cooperation, contribution, and commitment. When Christ is at the center of our team, we experience the deepest level of teamwork.
Coach, do your teams demonstrate great teamwork? Which of the “C”s are strongest in your program? Which need the most improvement? Keep Christ at the center of your life and your coaching, and continue to encourage your team to pursue those qualities that bring about Christ-honoring cohesiveness. May you know the joy of leading teams in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
For reflection: As you consider the 5 “C”s and where improvement is needed on your team, ask the Lord for his wisdom and grace to coach effectively toward this improvement. Give thanks to Jesus Christ for his sacrificial work so that you could be part of his team.