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What makes for the best team? In the world of sport, every so often, a team emerges that is simply better than anyone else. They win every trophy, award and honor. Barcelona, Brazil, New York Yankees, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Manchester. If you’re a fan, you’ll know the team.
Listen to the interviews with the players, and you’ll regularly hear their pleasure, enjoyment, and sheer delight in their experiences. You’ll also hear about their respect, understanding, and camaraderie with each other. There’s no doubt that the best teams profoundly enjoy what they do, and function as integrated units.
You never read top teams quoted as saying “we hated every minute of our success”, or “we couldn’t stand each other”, it just wouldn’t compute.
Re-frame your perspective and eavesdrop on a meal where the thirty-three year-old Son of Man is spending a Thursday evening with his team. It is the night before their biggest test.
To begin to capture the moment, you might imagine a commander speaking to his troops on the eve of battle; a manager preparing his team for the game of their life; a leader equipping a group for the biggest deal in history; a mother about to give birth to a first-born; a bride on the eve of her wedding. Take your imagination to the night before, and you know you will have to focus.
The meal I am describing takes up nearly a quarter of the entire Gospel of John. The Son of Man’s best friend chose to dedicate about 25% of his magnum opus to this part of the story. So you can be sure you are in a sacred space as the words flow.
In this moment, you will hear the Son of Man emphasize joy. There it is again: he wants his team to enjoy their role, play their part. Not with mild pleasure but with absolute delight. He defines the joy as “my joy in you” and “your joy being complete”.
Hear him distinguish this joy from any other source. It’s from him, and him alone. Notice it’s not for a moment, or for a season, or partial, it’s complete.
Contrast it with the joy of sport, business, or any other form. It’s more profound, and it’s complete. This is not to devalue or minimize any other type of joy, just to go beyond them. That’s what he wants.
At the same meal, the Son of Man unveils a circular dynamic, which will characterize his team. One half of the circle involves obedience: he wants them to obey his commands. The other half is the command to love each other. There it is again: the best teams understand, cover, and function for each other.
But this love, too, is of a higher order. The Father has loved the Son, the Son has loved you – stay in that love. It’s not a mild affection, or even a form of camaraderie. It’s not just brothers and sisters-in-arms.
The measuring instrument of this love is “one-ness”. As the meal unfolds, so does his heart. He has shown a one-ness between himself and his Father, to his team. He prays that his team would have that same one-ness with each other. That they would function, not as separate parts, but as one.
This needs more attention, but I will leave you with two parting thoughts.
What would your team look like if it was hallmarked by joy and love? How would this impact the stress levels, achievement levels, bottom lines, profit margins, market share, and results, if it functioned that way? It’s called a soft skill, but, teams full of joy and love will invariably achieve more goals in the hard realities.
Second, and this is easy to miss: what happens if you combine Jesus’ thinking on being one, and loving each other? He sees his team, not merely as a group, but as one person. Can you see it?
Now stay with his union – he wants that one person to love – itself. It’s advanced spirituality of the self. He wants his “one” to be at peace with itself, to esteem itself. To be in harmony with itself, just as the Father and the Son are one.
It will take the power of the Spirit of God to forge that. And the Spirit, says the Son, is on the way.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
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