January 25, 2021
By David VanEpps
While one might think the sport of triathlon is an individual sport, I will argue that every sport is a team sport. When I started as a triathlete, I didn’t think I’d need a team. God showed me otherwise.
While training for Ironman Louisville, I was part of a triathlon team, and we were all very dependent on each other. This team provided many of the benefits of any sports team. We encouraged each other, motivated each other, held each other accountable to show up and do our best, and we collectively improved together. The team also provided many of the benefits of any community. We picked each other up, listened to each other, and supported one another through life’s challenges.
God’s Design for Teamwork
God’s design for life is all about teamwork. This community-oriented structure has existed since the beginning of time, with the Trinity of God including God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
This design for community is also reflected at the origin of human history. Genesis 2:18 says,
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.’”
Later, in verse 22, God created woman.
The Bible uses the body of Christ as a metaphor for teamwork. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 says,
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”
Here the Apostle Paul talks about the body being one, much like a team. He also acknowledges that the many parts form a single body, similar to how many players form a single team.
God wants us to collectively be the body of Christ. Everyone is needed, and everyone plays an equally important and vital role in the success of the church. Because of our individual uniqueness, we work together and complement each other. When we all work together as God’s church, our team can become a very powerful force for Him.
Life’s a Team Sport
God’s design for teamwork applies to life as well as sports. Shortly after training for Louisville began, I was pushing my limits in the pool and trying to sustain a pace much faster than that which I could maintain. My swim came to a screeching halt, as I realized that something was wrong with my shoulder.
After a few weeks of rest and ice, my shoulder wasn’t getting any better. I reluctantly went to the doctor, and the MRI confirmed I had a 50% tear in my rotator cuff. This was one of those breaking points we all encounter in life. It was definitely a moment that could have ruined my season.
Much like the other breaking points I’d hit over the years, this was an opportunity for God to teach me something and to turn this weakness into a strength. That strength came in the form of my team.
In the coming weeks, I worked closely with my expanded team, which now also consisted of an orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist. I continued working with our swim coach to develop a stronger kick, and she even showed me how to swim with only one arm. Of course, I leaned heavily on my teammates, and they kept my spirits up while I was struggling to recover and preparing to pull off the race.
God’s Call to Action
- Live in community. Have a group of 2 a.m. friends who would be there for you in the middle of the night if you needed help. Build those relationships and be a 2 a.m. friend for them as well. Most Bible-based churches offer opportunities to participate in small groups, which are typically groups who periodically get together for Bible studies, topical studies, or just to connect. Often, these groups become those 2 a.m. friends, so if you don’t yet have a tight group of close friends, especially those who can help you grow spiritually, consider a small group.
- Be the church. Remember that the early church was not a physical building. It was a group of believers who moved out in their communities to share the love of Jesus Christ. Find those opportunities on your team, in your school, in your workplace, in your neighborhood. Wherever you go, you are the church.
- Stay connected. Whether you participate in team sports or individual sports, keep in mind that you are part of a team. No man is an island, so no matter what you do, you do it with others. Even when you can’t physically be near others, find ways to connect. With modern-day technology, we’re all finding new ways to stay connected despite not always being in close physical proximity.
Life’s a team sport. Play it that way!