Teamwork is a struggle for me. In school I dreaded when my teacher would say, “Break into groups of 3 (4, 5…) and then work together for the biggest project of the year, and trust that the people in your group pull their weight enough to keep your GPA in proper standing. Oh, and try not to kill each other.”
That’s not what was said? Well, that’s what I heard.
Or take team sports for example. I was always into sports that didn’t require me to depend on my teammates for my personal performance, at least not directly: running, swimming, gymnastics, etc.
As much as I love people, working with them for a common goal is a challenge to me. I’m a type A control freak with a hyper-independent streak that hates asking for help, and I’m very uncomfortable feeling vulnerable when I have to trust other people to do their part. I was the kid that would rather do all of the work “my way,” and then let other people take the credit for it.
I’d say the turning point for me was when I battled crippling fear and anxiety soon after my husband and I were married. You can read more about that season of life, and the beautiful healing I experienced here.
As I get older I see more and more the beauty in collaboration. There are people worth trusting to help me when I need it. There are ways to rise above the “dog-eat-dog,” “me first,” world that we live in. Life is truly better when we all rise up together, and there is something rich and warm about the safety net that comes when I trust other people to help me.
Because as much as it stings to admit, I need help. In order to grow up in faith, to finish daily to-do lists, to achieve big dreams, I need help. And that’s ok. In fact, it’s good because working with a team mentality reminds me that there’s more at stake than incomplete tasks. Relationships—real people—matter, and by learning to trust others, I learn to love people more.
This season of life would be impossible without a team of people coming alongside and supporting, encouraging, helping me. Having a new baby, preparing my oldest son to start kindergarten, pursuing God-given dreams of writing and teaching, planning and preparing for the new ministry year for women at my home church…lately the to-do’s have felt exhaustingly endless. And there have been more than a few days when I am so tired that I just want to quit. Throw in the towel. Rest.
Working in a team—trusting a team—reminds us of the purposes for our labors. Letting other people into our work enables them to encourage, champion, and speak truth to us when we need it the most. It’s easy to accept accolades for a job well done after a job is complete. It’s hard to let people into the tears being shed along the way, but doing so cultivates rich community with others; community rooted in authenticity, and camaraderie.
Collaboration stretches us, and yields greater fruit that we can produce on our own. Inviting multiple “sets of eyes” into our work gives a broader range of vision to see blind spots, accept new ideas, re-inspire creativity when we hit a roadblock, and problem solve when negative situations arise.
It’s been said that no man is an island. Nor should we be. Let’s invite people into our workspace and learn to
be ok with enjoy receiving help. And let us in turn offer our help to others.
(A big shout out to those of you who have run alongside me these last few months. I love “doing life” with you, and am so thankful for you stepping in to hold up my arms when I have been too weak and tired to do so alone).
Run hard. Love Strong.