“And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17, ESV)
It is worth consideration that the Son of God chose to work with imperfect people rather than to work alone.
“It all started by Jesus calling a few men to follow him. This revealed immediately the direction his evangelistic strategy would take. His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow. Remarkable as it may seem, Jesus started to gather these men before he ever organized an evangelistic campaign or even preached a sermon in public. Men were to be his method of winning the world to God.” – Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism
We have heard pep talks about teamwork from little league all the way through the current presidential campaigns. You’ve probably heard every bumper sticker slogan about teamwork that is out there. Chances are, you’ve heard at least some of the statistics that show that teams that communicate well and share responsibility typically outperform even the most gifted individuals. You may even have first hand knowledge of that yourself.
Instead, let’s take a different perspective. Let’s ask ourselves the question: Why do we choose to work alone? In the light of all the knowledge we have leading us toward teamwork – why do we so often ignore it all and just do things on our own? I’ve got a few ideas (excuses).
- Personality type
Some of us with high ‘I’ scores on the Myers Briggs test claim our tendency towards introversion keeps us working alone. We may use the phrase, “I work better this way”, when in fact we mean “I’m more comfortable this way”. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert – I’m one myself, but there is something dishonest about claiming comfort as the deciding factor of work quality. Work is not meant to be comfortable in and of itself, the way rest or play might be. Work is essentially about getting a particular task done efficiently and with good quality. If our work quality would improve by having a second or third set of eyes going over the project with us as a team, then we probably ought to do that and if the work would go more efficiently if the project were divided up between team members into smaller, interrelated tasks, then we should put our introverted preference aside and work as a team.
- Distrust of others
Getting a little more honest, we sometimes use a distrust of others as our excuse to avoid teamwork. Distrust is often not a natural, but a learned response we pick up from having one or more significant experiences of betrayal. It is a defense mechanism whose purpose is to protect ourselves from relationships and the possibility of hurt that comes with them. Again, like the personality type, there is a time and place for distrust… mostly short-term situations we can either find some kind of reconciliation or leave. Distrust does not help us in the long term and it won’t help us lead.
- Need to be in control
Insecurity over most any issue often creates a need to be in control. Unfortunately, the reality of our situation is that the greater our position of authority in any organization, oftentimes the less actual control we have over the organization, and sometimes our own lives. It becomes a downward spiral where the need to be in control actually pushes us into places where we have less control over our own lives, causing more insecurity, causing a greater need to be in control, in a cycle that never ends.
Jesus could have used any of those excuses. I don’t know whether Jesus was more of an introvert or extrovert, but He demonstrated enough of a desire to spend time alone or with small groups of people that I probably could have used that reason to do things on His own. He had plenty of reason to distrust others because He was more aware of our sin than we were ourselves. While He did not seem to be insecure, He, being God, really was in control and so He could have used that as a legitimate reason to just do things Himself.
The bottom line is, if anyone had good reason to just take care of things themselves, it was Jesus, and He chose to recruit help. Our second priority, after getting prepared ourselves, is to find others to join us in our work, for the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.