It’s only been a week since the Kansas City Chiefs won the most recent Super Bowl. I’m already sad that football season is over. And while I’m more of a college football fan, there’s something special about watching a team that works together to accomplish victory.
You are probably part of some sort of team—even if you don’t call it that. Maybe you serve on a ministry team, a team at work, or even an athletic team. And while we often focus on leading a team, it’s just as important to consider ways you can be a good team member. No matter what kind of team you might find yourself on, here are seven ways you can be a good team member.
1. Contribute to the team and know your position. As the old saying goes, “There’s no ‘I’ in team.” Individuals who use their spiritual gifts and talents to accomplish goals characterize a good team. Just like a football team has several positions, each team member has specific strengths and responsibilities. Recently, my church held a small retreat for moms in our congregation. It wasn’t a huge event, but it still took several people helping to make everything happen. From lodging, gifts, teaching, worship, and food, everyone on the team pitched in and made the experience a meaningful weekend. If you’re not contributing to the team effort, either ask the leader for an assignment or consider how you can best be used on another team.
Scripture is clear about the body of Christ working together and knowing the parts we each contribute to the church. Ephesians 4:16 reminds us, “From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.”
2. Be supportive of the vision and direction of the leader of the team. If you’ve agreed to be on someone’s team, give her your full support and work toward accomplishing mutual goals. A football coach may call the plays and have a strategy for winning, but the coach also needs willing team members who submit to his leadership. Pray that your ministry leader is striving to accomplish goals that are pleasing to the Lord and then join her in the journey.
3. Stay in your lane but also know how others accomplish their responsibilities. In other words, be the best you can be in the position God has given you but be a learner of the entire team. Seek to understand their responsibilities, be a learner, and be a listener. Good team members don’t do the work of others, but they have a good understanding of what others do. The team I lead at work understands their specific assignments, but they also know how others complete their jobs, and they encourage and help others out when they need it.
4. Communicate with the team and the team leader. It’s important for team leaders to have ongoing conversations with their team, but it’s equally important for team members to communicate with the leader. The team of Lifeway trainers I lead expects to hear from me almost on a weekly basis even though we may live hundreds of miles apart. But, if I consistently don’t hear from them I may begin to question whether they are following through with assignments or preparing for their next event. Just like prayer is communication between you and the Lord, your team leader needs to hear from you.
5. Pray for your team. I may have a weekly email or meetings with various teams, but a cohesive team is one where you can share prayer concerns with one another at any time. Over the weekend, I had an urgent prayer request. I quickly sent a group text message to other ministry leaders who I knew would pray right then. The next morning, several of them found me at church and wanted me to give them an update and let me know they were still praying. When you are a team member who prays, you’re saying you care about your mission and goals, but you are ultimately saying you care for them as people made in the image of God.
6. Eliminate gossip from the team. Proverbs 16:28 says, “A contrary person spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” A good team member doesn’t talk badly about other team members behind their backs. Instead, they cheer one another on and seek the best in one another. You may not consider a Bible study group a team, but in reality, all of you are learning and working toward community. If one person begins bad-mouthing someone else, be brave enough to shut down the conversation and encourage others to speak well of one another.
7. Finally, a good team member handles conflict in a biblical manner. We don’t always see this in our sports world, but unfortunately we sometimes don’t see it in our ministry world either. Not only can conflict harm relationships between the people involved, but it can affect the entire team. If you’re in the midst of conflict, examine yourself first before putting the blame on someone else. Seek and pursue peace with one another, not just for the sake of the team, but for the sake of the gospel. Romans 14:19 reminds us, “So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.”
Kelly D. King is the Manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for Lifeway Christian Resources. She is the author of Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide for Leading Women in the Local Church. You can hear Kelly at Lifeway’s You Lead events that are held in several cities around the country or listen to her co-host the Marked Podcast with Elizabeth Hyndman.