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Jesus Had a Team—Do You?

Jesus Had a Team—Do You?

By David Jeremiah

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Have you ever watched a car race on television?

Before the race, the spotlight is on one person: the driver. First, fans treat drivers like celebrities, asking for pictures and autographs in the infield area before the race. Then there are the introductions—an announcer introduces every driver to a hundred thousand of his or her closest friends. After waving to the crowd, each driver meets and greets local dignitaries and officials who are attending the race. Next, all the drivers are paraded around the track in convertibles or pickups so they can wave to their cheering fans.

But after the race, the atmosphere changes completely—especially for the winner and the other top finishers. As the TV cameras are rolling, the interviewers want to talk about the drivers: “What happened? How did you do it? How did you feel?” But the drivers deflect the attention in a new direction—to their team: “I want to thank my crew chief, Joe, and all the guys on the pit crew. If they hadn’t gotten me in and out of the pits so quickly, I would have lost my position. And all the guys back in the shop—the engine builders, fab crew, everybody—they gave me an awesome race car today. I want to thank our sponsors, too—they’re part of our team and make it possible for us to race week after week. I couldn’t be prouder of our entire team.”

Participating in a car race is similar to running the race mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:7. To truly thrive through this race of life, we need to keep our focus on the One who can guide and protect us through every obstacle in our path.

Participating in a car race is similar to running the race mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:7. To truly thrive through this race of life, we need to keep our focus on the One who can guide and protect us through every obstacle in our path. And to help us finish strong, it is vital to surround ourselves with people who will encourage and support us on our journey. 

What a Difference a Team Makes

To the public, the driver is the hero. But to the drivers, their teammates are the heroes. The drivers know that without their team members and sponsors, there would be no car for them to race. It’s remarkable how the crews of a car race parallel the teams that Jesus built during His ministry on earth. Here’s a closer look at Jesus’ “teams.”

1. The Home Team

Jesus had 120 disciples who gathered together in Jerusalem immediately after His ascension into heaven. They were the core of those who followed Him (Acts 1:15) and upon whom the Holy Spirit came (Acts 2:1-4).

2. The Hands-On Team

Jesus had seventy disciples whom He trained to do the work of the ministry. He sent them out in pairs to conduct pre-evangelism in the cities He was going to visit (Luke 10:1).

3. The Road Team

Jesus had twelve disciples who went everywhere with Him. They spent their time with Him and learned to think and act together in accordance with His direction (Matthew 10:1-4).

4. The Pit Team

Jesus had three disciples—Peter, James, and John—whom He chose to be with Him in “the pits,” so to speak—at the crisis moments of His ministry. They were with Him at His Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8), when He healed the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:22, 37), and during His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33).

5. The Team Leader

Jesus seems to have had one disciple to whom He was closer than all the others. John was the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2; 21:7, 20), and as Jesus prepared to die, He appointed John to care for His mother (John 19:25-27). It may not be fair to say he was the leader of the twelve, but he certainly had a unique relationship with Christ.

What a Difference Your Team Can Make

A team is like a pyramid, isn’t it? At the bottom is that largest, foundational part of the team that supports the increasingly smaller teams that are drawn from it. I want to suggest to you that every Christian will be far more likely to win his spiritual race if he has most, if not all, of the multiple teams I’ve just described.

1. Your Home Team

In the Old Testament, often there were several generations of a family living together. When Jacob’s family moved from Canaan to Egypt to escape famine, there were 75 people in all (Acts 7:14). Today, extended family members are often scattered from coast to coast. But they represent a phenomenal support network—especially in the family of faith.  

2. Your Hands-On Team

Obviously, your hands-on team is your immediate family. While families today tend toward being small, the biblical design was large: Fortunate was the man who had a quiver full of arrows, the psalmist wrote (Psalm 127:4-5). I can attest that my love and appreciation for my family gets stronger every year as I spend time with my children, their spouses, and their children. How blessed is the man whose wife and children bear their fruit abundantly for all his life (Psalm 128:1-4)!

3. Your Road Team

I look at this team as being part of a small group. I don’t think any concept has deepened the Body of Christ more in recent decades than the small group movement. When eight to twelve individuals meet regularly week after week for prayer, study, and fellowship, a bond is formed that cannot be duplicated any place else (Acts 2:42-47). If you are not part of a small group, I strongly urge you to become part of one and be a faithful member.

4. Your Pit Team

Invariably in life (just as in Jesus’ case), every person forms an intimate bond with one, two, or three other individuals. That seems to be about the number of really close relationships any person can sustain. Certainly, one’s spouse ought to be in that number. But often, close friends of the same sex are desirable, birds of a feather flocking together. Whatever their origin—small group, old friend, mentor, accountability partners—every Christian needs someone who will go into the pit with him in life’s crisis moments (2 Timothy 4:11).

Whatever their origin—small group, old friend, mentor, accountability partners—every Christian needs someone who will go into the pit with him in life’s crisis moments (2 Timothy 4:11).

5. Your Team Leader

Make time for personal Bible study and prayer each day. If you are not daily in communication with Jesus Christ, your personal Team Leader, then no other team in your life will function as it should (Philippians 3:10).

There are obviously many other people I haven’t mentioned—pastors, neighbors, teachers, life coaches—who might occupy a place on one of your teams. But my point is this: When you interact with productive and supportive teams like the ones I’ve described, you will have a winning team for your personal race in life.

Build Your Teams

Do this: Make a quick written or mental evaluation of the five teams I’ve outlined relative to your life. Consider if there are any areas needing improvement. If there are, go to your Team Leader, Jesus Himself, and ask for His help in building strong teams that will surround you and support you in the years ahead. And keep in mind—others need strong team members in their lives, too. So be willing to serve in order to be served by others.

Having a godly team is essential for keeping our focus on God and His will for us.

Having a godly team is essential for keeping our focus on God and His will for us. Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” And 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” It’s critical that we surround ourselves with people who will encourage us in our spiritual race.

Just like a race driver in a demanding competition, the key to finishing well in life is to keep focused on the finish line. Maintaining our focus can be challenging, but adopting a winner’s mindset will help us succeed. A strong team can help us stay resilient during life’s challenges, keep us connected to God’s calling, remind us to remain vigilant after our victories, and prepare for what the future holds. You have a winning team!

An earlier version of this article appeared in the October 2006 issue of Turning Points magazine. Request your complimentary subscription today!

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