I have been on several teams, some have been great and some not so great. The teams that are great have this feeling of completeness. I had always thought the greatness of the team had something to do with the people that were on the team. If you got the right people in the right place, if the right people were on the team, then the team would be great. I have spent lots of relational equity trying to get the right people on the team. However, this morning as I was before the Lord, He started to show me things about these great teams. I have been on these teams but I had never paid attention to these attributes before. There are lots of components that make up a great team. However, there was one attribute that stood out above the rest. This one is counter cultural, yet it is the one thing that seems to make or break a great team. It is summed up in two words: authentic encouragement. This is counter cultural because of the overwhelming amount of sarcasm that has become the standard for humor. I know this is a sore subject, we as Americans have picked up sarcasm as a pressure release valve on the tension of our lives. Sarcasm has a dark side, it breeds insecurity and undermines credible relationships. What we have picked up to try keep the peace has only drawn the battle lines evermore distinct. I have looked through out the scriptures trying to remove this conviction from my heart, yet I can not support sarcasm as part of God’s plan; I can not find anywhere He uses sarcasm. It simply is not in God’s character to be sarcastic! I am sure we could stretch the truth found in the scripture to justify something that God is trying to eliminate.
Truth be told, when there is authentic encouragement there is no need for sarcasm. I found that as I reflect on those great teams I have been on, sarcasm was simply no part of them. However, there was a true love which manifested itself in encouragement. The apostle Paul knew all about this, so when he is inspired to write to Timothy a second time, Paul (or maybe God) encourages him. It says in 2 Timothy 1:2-7 (NASB) To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace Mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience that way my forefathers did as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you , even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Paul simply tells Timothy the truth to encourage him, reminding him of who God has called him to be and where he came from.
As I was discussing this idea with a friend he asked me a question (that you might be asking yourself right now as you read this) “What if I don’t have anything encouraging to say?” The answer to this is simple: get to know them and look for things that are great, things you can honestly encourage them about. Perspective is a powerful thing; If you focus on looking for faults you will find them no matter how “perfect” the person might be. The opposite is equally true, if you look for the positive in people you are bound to find it, no matter how “imperfect” they are.
Things to think about when assessing your current team: How have I been speaking to people on my team: sarcastically or encouragingly? Do you want to be on a great team or are you happy with mediocrity? What is it going to take to give up sarcasm and really encourage people?