The Sunrise Story Part 3
Team Sunrise: What Team Really Means
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
September 21, 2003

 

Main Passage: Romans 12:3-13 (NLT)

 

How many of you are channel flickers? I have to confess, I am. It drives Shera nuts to watch TV with me, because I’m constantly flipping through the channels to see what else is on. I can’t stand to sit through commercials, so I’ve gotten pretty good at surfing through channels during commercial breaks and timing when I need to be back to the channel when the show comes back on.

A few years ago, that’s exactly what I was doing when I came across a soccer game. Now, I’m not really into soccer. I used to play a bit as a kid, and I know who Pele is, but that’s about the extent of my soccer expertise. But as I was flipping through the channels this one particular day I came across the gold medal match of the (1999) Women’s’ World Cup between China and the U.S. Both teams had their fans there... the Chinese (PowerPoint)... and the Americans (PowerPoint). They were already into the shoot-out by the time I tuned in, but apparently it had been a hotly contested match and at the end of regulation time the score was 0-0. They had then played through 2 overtime periods with nothing settled.

So after 120 minutes of play in a scoreless tie everything came down to the best-of-five shoot-out. And when it came down to the final kick, which belonged to the U.S., the shoot-out was tied 4-4. That’s when Brandi Chastain took the final shot and brought victory home for the U.S.

Now, as I’ve already said, I wasn’t actually following the whole competition, but it seemed to me that this victory by the U.S. really captured the attention of the media. There were features and interviews and articles all over about this team, and the recurring theme was how great this team was. Even here in Canada I saw a lot of media coverage of this game. I came across one article in particular in Newsweek entitled “Learning What ‘Team’ Really Means” and it talked about what people on a team know.

So what I want to do this morning is take a look at that article and adapt it to the context of us here at Sunrise being a team.

Before we get to that, let me ask you:

When you think about great teams, which teams come to mind?

PARTICIPATION
(Oilers of 80s, Canadiens of 70s, 72 Summit Series Team, Yankees, 96 BasketBall Dream Team)

What made them great?

PARTICIPATION
(Played together, passionate, skilled, great leadership, coaching, etc.)

 

Five Things People On A Team Know:

 

1. They Know Who Their Teammates Are

I was talking with someone this past week about some of the problems with organized religion. And I commented that one of the problems I have is that we see each other as competition. We seem unable to cooperate with other churches and work together for the greater good. I think churches are getting a lot better with this, but there’s still the tendency to feel threatened and and to compete and compare with other churches.

Let me show you some numbers…

According to the Charlottetown website and the 2001 census, there are 32,245 people living in Charlottetown. That doesn’t include Stratford or Cornwall or anyplace else that’s outside of the city limits. There are 32,245 people living in Charlottetown.

The Government of Canada has a record of 33 churches located in Charlottetown. The average church size in North America is someplace around 75 people, but let’s be generous and say we’re doing really well in Charlottetown and the average size is 100 people. With 33 churches averaging 100 people each, that’s 3300 people. Figure it out… with 3300 people involved in churches out of a population of 32, 245 that means there are 28,945 people any given Sunday who are not involved in any kind of church who desperately need to enter into a relationship with God.

Something we do during our services here on Sunday mornings is pray for other churches in the city. Why? Because it’s time we stopped seeing other churches as the competition and saw them instead as just another line on the same team. We’re in this together. We’re on the same team.

It’s sad when churches can’t get along with each other, but it’s even sadder when the people within a church can’t get along. People can sometimes be bent out of shape over the least little thing. John Wesley was a preacher who traveled throughout England during the 1700’s. I don’t know if this is a true story or if it’s just folklore, but as the story goes John Wesley finished preaching one day and was approached by a lady who had been there to hear him preach. She marched right up to him and declared, “Sir, your tie offends me.” Immediately he asked if anyone had a pair of scissors. No one did, so he sent someone to get a pair while they waited patiently. Finally the man came back with a pair of scissors. John Wesley took them and cut off his tie. Then he looked at the lady, gave her the scissors, and said, “Madam, your tongue offends me.”

Isn’t it crazy how something as simple as a tie can cause division? By the way, have you ever really thought about the concept of a tie? I mean, what is it, anyway? It’s a piece of cloth that you hang around your neck. Kind of a lease or a noose. Or maybe is a bib for us men because we’re such messy eaters.

Anyway, we need to know who our teammates are. Teammates don’t attack each other over the least little thing. They’re unified, they share a common goal, they support each other, they want the best for each other, and they don’t do anything that is going to hurt another teammate.

Let’s hear from someone who has played on a team, who knows what it’s like to have teammates: Michael Jordan;

“There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren’t willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
~ Michael Jordan

In the passage that we read earlier in the service it said:

Romans 12:4-5 (NLT)
Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.

Know who your teammates are.

The second thing that people on a team know is this:

 

2. They Know How To Lead.

People on a team know what it means to lead. What does that mean?

 

L - Let go of the past.

This means letting go of our past victories and our past failures. Learn from them, but don’t be bound by them. Yesterday ended last night.

Philippians 3:12-13 (NLT)
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

Let go of your past victories and your past failures.

 

E - Envision the future.

See things not as they are but as they could be. It’s the principle of the dogsled. Unless you’re the front dog, your view’s the same as the rest of the dogs.

John Maxwell is widely considered to be one of the greatest leaders in the church today, and in fact is respected as a leader throughout North America. And he puts out a CD every month talking about leadership. I was listening to one of those a while ago and heard him say this:

“In a leader’s life, reality isn’t what he or she has in front of them; it’s what he or she can believe God to give them.”
~ John Maxwell

Do you envision what God can do through Sunrise and in the whole Charlottetown area? Let me share with you the first three verses from the book of Joshua in the Old Testament:

Joshua 1:1-3 (NIV)
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD , the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.”

Let me tell you what I believe. I believe that God wants to make the same promise to us: “I will give you every place where you set your foot.” I believe that if we will trust in God, see what He can do through Sunrise, and act on it, we can lead our communities to Him.

Catch what Joel Barker, an American businessman, consultant and author, said:

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes time. Vision WITH action can change the world. A true leader must first see an idea as opportunity, then choose to act upon it.”
~ Joel Barker, American Businessman, Consultant, Author

That lead’s right into the letter “A”. Once you have envisioned the future, you need to...

 

A - Always give your best effort.

Wayne Gretzky used to say that in every game he knew someone was seeing him for the first time and someone was seeing him for the last time. And he didn’t want to disappoint either one so he always gave his best effort.

I have a poster in my office that shows Gretzky in his prime with the Oilers skating full out, and when I see it I think “To be my best, I’ve got to give it everything I’ve got.”

Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT)
Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ.

“Bigness comes from doing many small things well. Individually, they are not very dramatic transactions. Together, though, they add up.”
~ Edward S. Finkelstein

 

D - Develop a positive attitude.

I’ve got a friend who has his pilot’s license and a number of years ago he took me up with him for a flight. I remember getting into that plane and looking at all the dials and switches there on the panel. He explained some of them to me, and there among all the other gadgets was an attitude indicator. And this indicator was there to tell how your plane was positioned in relation to the horizon. When a plane is climbing it has a nose-high attitude because the nose of the plane is pointed above the horizon. When the airplane is diving it has a nose-down attitude. The attitude of the plane determines the performance of the plane.

You catching on? No deep hidden messages here, it’s right out there in “plane” sight. Our attitude determines our ability to lead and to contribute to the team.

John Maxwell wrote about this is his book, “The Winning Attitude”, and he claims:

“You attitude determines your altitude.”
~ John Maxwell

The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in the church in Philippi;

Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT)
Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross.

What kind of attitude did Jesus have? He was selfless in how He would give up His own comforts for the good of others, He was secure with who He was which allowed Him to enter a world where he would be mocked and scorned and treated as a criminal, and He was submissive to the will of God the Father regardless of the personal consequences.

Here are a couple more quotes on attitude:

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
~ Lou Holtz, American Football Coach

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
~ Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826, Third President of the USA

People on a team know how to lead. The third thing people on a team know is…

 

3. They Know What They’re Good At.

“A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses those skills to accomplish his goals.”
~ Larry Bird (American Basketball Player, Coach)

What are you good at? What talents, gifts and abilities has God blessed you with?

Romans 12:4-6 (NLT)
Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.
God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.


Once you discover how God has equipped you and you start to work in those areas two things are going to happen.

When you serve where you’re gifted…:

  1. You’ll be happier.

  2. The team will be more effective.

 

And one other thing. On the World Cup Soccer team, the goalie was not responsible for scoring in the opponent’s net. She was responsible for defending her own net. You’ll be held accountable for using the gifts you have, not the ones you don’t.

“As simple as it sounds, we all must try to be the best person we can: by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we’ve been given.”
~ Mary Lou Retton

 

4. They Know How To Bond.

Michelle Akers played for that U.S. soccer team and was named the FIFA Player of the Century in 2000: She herself is a Christian, and she had this to say about playing on a team…

“Walking side by side over many miles of tough terrain, it brings you closer. It’s a shared vision of who we are.”
~ Michelle Akers

Who watched Survivor this week? Hard to believe this is the seventh season of Survivor. But one thing we see season after season is this: The tribe who does the best on any given week is the tribe that bonds and works the best together. So far, it looks like the Drake team is going to do pretty well this season, at least based on the first episode.

The first century church was a diverse group of people. It consisted of Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, masters and servants, old and young. The only common denominator was their faith in Jesus Christ. Yet that was enough to unify them.

Time and time again throughout the Bible God calls His people to be unified.

Romans 12:10 (NLT)
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other.

Ephesians 4:2-4 (NLT)
Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace.
We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future.


Philippians 2:2 (NLT)
Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose.

Right before Jesus was arrested and taken off to be killed, the Bible records what’s been called His High Priestly Prayer. And in it He prays for His disciples, but then extends His prayer to us today. This is what He said:

John 17:20-21 (NLT)
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father—that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.”

We need to know how to bond. We need to be understanding and tolerant of values and opinions which may differ from ours. We don’t need to accept them as our own, but we need to be tolerant. I’m not saying that we should abandon what we believe in and condone sin, but what I am saying is that for the sake of the unity which is so important to God that He emphasized it over and over again in the Bible, we can set aside our petty differences and learn to accept cultural and social differences.

All right. Number 5.

 

5. They Know How To Take Risks.

We quoted Michael Jordan earlier. Now let’s quote the man who was his coach with the Chicago Bulls. Phil Jackson said:

“Once you’ve done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into the action and put your heart on the line.”
~ Phil Jackson (American Basketball Coach)

And here’s a great quote from T. S. Eliot:

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
~ T. S. Eliot (1888-1965, American-born British Poet, Critic)

And one more quote (not included in your notes) …

“Athletes don’t always succeed, but they’re willing to take public risks, which inspires [others] whose fears of looking foolish keep them safely seated on the sidelines.”
~ Mariah Burton Nelson

If Abraham hadn’t taken a risk, he would have never left his homeland to follow God’s leading. If Moses hadn’t taken a risk he would have never confronted Pharaoh and ordered that the Israelites be set free from captivity. If David hadn’t taken a risk there would have been no one to oppose Goliath. If Elijah hadn’t taken a risk he would have never challenged the prophets of Baal to a showdown on Mount Carmel where God showed His power. If Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego hadn’t taken a risk they would have bowed to the image of gold and God wouldn’t have had the opportunity to rescue them from the fiery furnace. If Peter hadn’t taken a risk he would have never walked on water. And it goes on and on… great people in the Bible and throughout history accomplishing great things because they were willing to take risks.

Is there a risk God is asking you to take that you’re fighting? Trust Him. Because with God on our side nothing is impossible.

 

Close your eyes and just let me talk to you for a minute. In a couple of different conversations I’ve had recently I told people how much I love this church and the people in it. I sincerely believe God can do incredible things through Sunrise, if we function as a team with Christ as the coach... if we function as a body with Christ as the head. As we start to head into the fall and things start to gear up for another year, let me urge you to devote some time to thinking and praying about what role you should play on Team Sunrise and in what areas you need to grow this year. Let’s pray.

 

Father, I do believe in Sunrise Wesleyan Church and in what you can do through us. I believe that you want to use us to change the whole spiritual climate of the Charlottetown area and impact lives for You. I ask right now that you will take us and form us into the team that You want us to be. Help us to be unified, to have a shared vision, to believe in and support each other, and to desire to make a difference. Surprise us, sustain us, stretch us. And above all, Father, we want to submit to Your direction and Your leading... because You are God, and honouring You is why we exist. In Your name, Amen.

 

 

 

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