Serving with SOUL
Tony Dungy, Pro Football Hall of Fame and Super Bowl winning coach for the Baltimore Colts wrote a couple of books on leadership. Tony is an evangelical Christian who integrated his spiritual beliefs and convictions into his coaching role. At one point, he even considered giving up his coaching career to go into prison ministry. One of his recent books, The SOUL of a Team outlines what he considers necessary in order to have a successful team or organization. One of his major coaching philosophies was that every single person on his team roster was important and necessary. He ensured that his coaching staff treated and coached the 53rd person on their team roster the same way as they did the 3rd person on the roster. I found that a lot of things he points out in this book regarding a sports team parallel how we should view the church body. The effectiveness and function of the church is impacted in the same way that he points to the “SOUL” of a team. I have substituted the words church family in place of team.
S is for SELFLESSNESS: Putting individual needs and interests aside for the good of the church family.
Selflessness is not false humility and does not mean becoming a door mat that everyone can take advantage of or step all over. A truly selfless team member is confident in their abilities and grounded in their beliefs, but instead of using these abilities and beliefs just for their own benefit and knowledge, they view them as gifts from God to be employed for the benefit of others. God has put a different gift and passion in every church family member’s heart, and these gifts and passions are important because they are important to God.
Our desire and focus should be to help and encourage others to succeed and flourish both in their spiritual growth and their passions in ministry. When we do this, we become part of something much bigger and more successful than what we can accomplish by ourself. By serving and encouraging one another, the members of the church are brought closer together. This also helps us to see the importance and impact that we and our ministries have on each other. By looking out for others and caring for them, our relationships grow stronger as well as our desire to want to work together. It’s a win-win situation.
God wants each of us to grow and meet the goals set before us, but when we are willing to set aside our own personal goals for the good of the whole, everyone grows and this is more pleasing to God.
O is for OWNERSHIP: Owning the role that God gives us causes us to invest in it more. We have a greater desire to fulfill these roles and want to please God in doing so. This requires giving 100%, being positive, and engaged every single day. This doesn’t come naturally and requires work. We must understand and accept the fact that everyone’s role in the church family is important. The success or the absence of our role significantly impacts the roles of others in the church. They all depend on each other in order for the whole body to function as God designed. This means that we should invest the time and energy to be the best that we can be in our individual roles. This also includes holding each other accountable in our individual roles. Your spiritual growth can be dependent on the ownership and efforts that others put into their roles.
U is for UNITY: We must all understand and rally around the mission and purpose that God has for us as a church family. This requires open communication, transparency, and positive conflict resolution.
Ministry is a team sport. Everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to the mission and philosophy. We need to be working towards the same goals. Unity isn’t only about everyone rallying around the same message; it’s also about rallying around each other. What each one of us does or fails to do affects everyone else. Successes and failures in ministry doesn’t get pinned on one individual. A success in ministry should be a team success, especially when everyone is doing their part, directly and indirectly towards that goal.
L is for LARGER PURPOSE: The contributions and efforts of each member of our church family and our ministry goals should be focused and pointed towards a larger purpose. If not, they just become single isolated accomplishments. Instead, we should all be contributing towards a larger focus in a lasting and significant way. People want to work for organizations that are built around something important. In our case, that would be reaching the lost. Each one of us, by giving selflessly, in our area of ministry should ultimately impact this larger purpose; whether it’s mowing the lawn at the church, cleaning the bathrooms, serving on the A/V or worship team, or teaching Sunday school. These all tie into the bigger picture. When we stay focused on the big picture, we can find joy in doing what we do. This also helps us recognize why we do it. We’re here to serve God and not just ourselves, and this service has eternal value!
It’s important to remember that others in our church family are depending on us to be here, to own our individual passions and gifts, and to serve with the right heart and attitude. This is also what God expects of us.
“Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24