We need look no further than the political fighting taking place in our government to understand how unproductive not “working together” can be. Now shift your focus to this year’s USA Women’s Soccer team who went all the way to win the Women’s World Cup. They faced tough competition and much criticism, but they stuck together as a “team,” and “working together” went on the victory. We admire their talent and determination, but they did not succeed on their own. There were coaches, friends, and many others who supported them in their quest for victory. Each athlete is part of and supported by a team “working together” to accomplish a common goal. The same is true as we work together to accomplish the goals the LORD has set before His Church.
We must work together as a team to succeed. And we must certainly recognize that the LORD is our leader and the source of all we will need to accomplish the goals He sets before us. Jesus has made this clear, telling us, “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). But He has given us reassurance that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). This means that we must allow God to direct our ministries, and we must trust in God to provide both the direction and resources we will need. The most valuable resource He will provide is people filled with the Spirit-gifts we need to empower His ministry.
We must be willing to work with others who have different gifts, and almost certainly different views and experiences. Like-minded people may get along well with each other, but they tend to only be helpful to those that are like them. But God loves variety and has made all of us uniquely special and different. Ministering to God’s children requires a diversity of gifts and talents. The gifts each servant contributes are not only equally essential, they are equally important. Therefore we must respect each other’s gifts and learn not only to appreciate each other, but depend on each other. Paul makes all of this clear in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12.
Paul begins by reminding us of our mutual need for each other, and the fact that all our gifts come from one source—the Holy Spirit. Paul writes: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good… All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines” (1 Co. 12:4-7, 11). This means we must not be critical of others for having different gifts, but value equally the gifts each of us is given, understanding they’ve all come from God for our common good.
Paul also helps us see that we are all integrally connected, and that we will all ultimately succeed or fail together. This means playing the “blame game” or being a “glory seeker” will not help but harm us all. Paul writes: “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.… so that there should be no division in the body, but that all its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Co. 12:12, 25-27).
So how do we work together for God? First, we must realize that we are all on the same team and quit competing and working against each other. Second, we must remember who our leader is and recognize that our many ministries are not to serve our desires but His goals. This means we must collectively and cooperatively listen and work together to discern God’s direction and goal, putting our individual desires aside. And third, we must learn to appreciate each other’s gifts, recognizing that they all come from God, and we need them all in order to accomplish His purpose. May God bless our “working together” for His glory.
Your fellow servant in Christ,