Becoming a Team Player

Sam Snead was one of the greatest golfers of all time, and continues today to hold the record for most career victories in professional golf—a daunting 82 victories, including 7 major championship titles. “Slammin’ Sammy” won his final PGA Tour event in 1965 when, at the age of 53, he captured the Greater Greensboro Open. But his was a career that almost never happened. I read a story once about Snead saying that, as a youth, he had been a top-rated high school football player. Why did he switch from football to golf? His high school teams were pretty bad, and he got tired of losing because of someone else. The story said that Snead decided that his winning or losing would fall only on him—and never again be on account of someone else. The result? He switched to golf, taught himself the game, and became a legend.

Snead’s frustration with poor team play is certainly understandable, but perhaps there is a lesson here. None of us has the freedom to live in isolation. We must learn to work together, live together, and function together with others. In team sports, this is a all-for-one and one-for-all mentality that can lift a team to heights that could never be achieved alone. It is also a mindset that allows us to help one another on the bad days while cheering for each other on the good days. In the context of the team called “marriage,” this is the “for better or for worse” portion of the traditional vows. In the church, it is the responsibility to see the value of each team member and to help the body to move forward together.

This is where the wisdom of the book of Hebrews becomes so valuable:

Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (10:24-25).

Notice the challenge the writer gives the readers as part of this team called “the body of Christ.” First, they were to consider (to observe, perceive) one another so that they could know how to best urge each other forward in the two critical areas of love and good works—areas that are, in Christ, inextricably linked in motive and heart. Second, they were instructed to assemble together, to spend time together, in order to provide opportunities for encouragement and challenge.

We would do well to learn from that marvelous challenge. For followers of Christ, a true team player is not necessarily the one who has the most ability or the greatest giftedness (however that may be defined). The true team player is the one who sees the value of the body and is willing to invest in helping others to be their most effective for Christ.

We live together with other believers from every tribe, tongue, and nation as part of a team. The question before us is simple: Will we choose to fly solo, or will we learn to work together to advance the mission we have received as a body?

 

Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain