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Disciple - A Team Sport
I have been a part of a lot of teams in my life. When I was younger, I participated in sports and I saw how a good team could make individuals better. As an adult, I coached sports teams and found that team "chemistry" had more to do with success than the individual skill levels of the players. Today, the teams of which I am a part are mostly about getting things done, not competition, but many of the same principles apply.
What I know about team is that a team can make us better than we would be on our own. We will work harder and enjoy it more when we are part of a good team. Bad teams can be pretty awful enough said about bad teams.
Being a disciple is one way to describe your Christian life. Being a disciple is also a "team sport" rather than an individual assignment. God blessed us by putting "the solitary into families" (Psalm 68:6) for our emotional well-being and personal happiness. He also desires His disciples to be part of a family of faith so they can grow closer to Him.
This "team" is the Church. We are all parts of Christ's body, the Church, and we make our own unique contributions to the growth of the body. We also grow individually by being a part of the Church. Just like a sports team with good chemistry can make individual athletes perform at a higher level, so the Church makes it possible to grow in ways we could never experience alone.
God in His mercy has surrounded you with other Christians to stir up your faith and encourage you as a disciple. Encouragement is a matter of give and take. We need to take a chance on people and give them encouragement: a card, phone call, or kind word that can bless people in ways we don't always know.
We also need to take encouragement from other Christians. Taking encouragement is probably harder than giving encouragement. It means being gracious in receiving compliments. It also means being humble and vulnerable as we learn from others where we can grow in grace.
If you want a short, sweet, and to the point description of how team discipleship works, read Hebrews 10:19-25. The one phrase in those verses that strikes me as central to having the generosity to give encouragement and the humility to receive it is in verse 22: "let us draw near with a true heartâ€¦"
May the Holy Spirit bless you with a true heart as you encourage and are encouraged by your other "team mates" in the Church. God is using them to make you better than you could be on your own.
Pastor Dan Czaplewski