This question is crucial for teams in all organizations, but especially churches and ministry organizations. When we get the answer wrong, we devote our energies on the wrong thing and fight with and against the body of Christ. But when we get it right, we attack the right problems and build – not fight against – the body of Christ.
This is simple, yet profound truth. If you can clarify the enemy of your ministry, you can then focus your team on attacking it, minimize fighting among your team, and maximize commitment to your organizational and team vision and mission.
Too often, we believe that our enemy is the church across the street, the fantastic youth ministry led by a dynamic youth pastor, another preacher, leader, colleague, or consultant with more twitter followers, iTunes downloads, or blog subscribers, the small group that engages perfect community, or that “other” university, charity, or ministry organization doing similar work. I know, I’ve been guilty of this myself.
Of course, the branding people tell us that we must distinguish ourselves from others who traffic in activities similar to ours, and we’ve listened to them. In fact, we’ve swallowed their bait hook, line, and sinker. But when we focus there, we compete with members of our larger team – the body of Christ.
Instead, we must focus on the real enemies of our souls: Satan, the world, and our flesh. We must battle against Satan and his distracting, deceptive work in this world, our depraved hearts and beliefs that we, ourselves, make good gods, our worldviews that do not acknowledge God, and our lifestyles that don’t align with God’s Word.
What would happen if our teams and small groups in the church would stop comparing ourselves to each other, and instead, focus on shining brightly the name of Christ in this world? Perhaps all of our lights together would shine so brightly no one could escape seeing it?
What would happen if team members would stop trying to out-do one another or distinguish themselves from the pack? Perhaps they would focus on the right enemy, muster greater commitment to their team’s purpose, bond together as a team, exert more individual effort, and focus wholly on the team’s common purpose – defeating the enemies of our souls.
I’m sure you cognitively agree. But, do your practices agree? If not, take a few minutes to refocus. Remember, your fight is not against the other members of your team, the other teams or small groups in your church, the other churches in your city, the other charities or ministry organizations who do what you do, or the other pastors and leaders who share similar interests. Your fight is against a world that has shut God out!
Reflection: How have you confused enemies in your work? How can you help your team to come together by identifying and focusing on the real enemies?
Photo Credit: Filippo Venturi