I realized last night that some of the most popular shows on television over the past few years focus on teams. Sure, each team has one or two stars and the rest are kind of the back-up, but the fans all have their favorite characters, and each character has a role to play. Consider the legal/crime fighting shows like Law and Order, CSI, or Castle (one of my favorites). Everyone on the team has a part to play in solving the mystery. There are also hospital dramas like Grey's Anatomy, House, or the long-running E.R. where teams of doctors have to diagnose strange illnesses and save lives in crazy situations. Even sitcoms like the hugely popular Friends, The Office, or Seinfeld follow the interactions and misadventures of a group of people whose lives are intertwined. As fans, we like to root for teams. We cheer for each person in the group as he or she makes unique contributions that lead to the team's success. Even the stars couldn't do as well on their own without a team. Every person, even the supporting cast, matters.
God designed us to work in teams. He endowed each of us with specific gifts that are maximized when they are combined with the gifts of others. Paul described the church as one body with many members—in essence a vast team in which every person is important. It can be hard to feel important when most of us feel like supporting cast members instead of the stars. But consider this—Jesus was divine and therefore fully capable of enacting his ministry on Earth without any help from anyone. Yet even he knew that his efforts would be better with a team, so he shared his ministry with his disciples. Later, he commissioned this motley group to lead his church after he had ascended to Heaven. Some of Jesus' followers have stood out more than others throughout history, but he entrusted his church to the entire group, not just the superstars. Every person is important, and that's why it's essential that we learn to work together.
I am personally a member of several different teams. I belong to several overlapping groups of family, friends, and loved ones. Together we help each other through the challenges of life and we inspire each other to grow and flourish. I am a member of a professional team that works to promote interest in a fine institution of higher learning. Together we attract first-rate students and faculty members to our school and inspire people to donate money to keep it going strong. I belong to a vocal choir and a hand bell choir where every voice and every pair of hands is needed to create a balanced blend of beautiful music. I am part of a thriving church community and a member of the larger body of Christ. None of these teams would be the same if I was not a part of them. Sure, they can all get by without me, but my contributions will be missed, especially until someone else is found to do some of the things I once did.
Even if the team can go on existing without us, that doesn't mean that we aren't important. We are all part of the team for a reason. Consider Bartholomew. I don't remember many stories about him, but Jesus must have chosen him to be one of the 12 for a reason. He was part of Jesus's ministry and a valued member of the team. Likewise, Paul got most of the glory during his many missionary journeys, but the contributions of Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy (among others) were invaluable. I think we all have our moments (few though they may be) when we get to be the star, but most of the time we're supporting members of the team. But that's OK, because we're still important.