Go Royals! Lessons In Team Dynamics

Wednesday, October 15, was a sad day for me.  That was the day that Baltimore Orioles were swept by the Kansas City Royals and lost the American League pennant race, thus missing a chance to go to the 2014 World Series.  It was the first time that the Orioles went to the American League Championship Series since 1997 – the year that I left Baltimore move to Orlando, Florida.  I was an avid fan then, and am still, and always will be a loyal fan.  Therefore, to see them go so far, then to be swept by a wild card team with a payroll that is 19th among 30 teams (Orioles are 15th), and boasting no real star was just too hard to watch.

But those Royals… Rather than make me hate them, they have made me a fan (just for this year).  In case you have not been following them, they have not lost in the play offs, until the first game of the World Series.  They beat the Oakland Athletics in a one game Wild Card match.  Then they swept the Los Angeles Angels, who had the best record in baseball this year with the 6th highest salary, in a best of five series.  And painfully, for me, they swept the Orioles in four games in a best of seven series.  Tonight (Oct. 24), they will be playing the San Francisco Giants in their third game of the best of seven series; they are tied 1-1.  And, yes, I will be cheering them on to win the 2014 World Series.

Why am I cheering for the Royals?  Because they have shown what a good team looks like.  Here are just a few things I saw in them this fall:

  1. Passion/hunger – You can see in the way that they play that they are passionate about baseball and that they are hungry to win – you can see it in their eyes! It is contagious!  As a Christian, I often wonder if the world sees the passion and the hunger that I claim to have for Jesus.  How would the world change if they saw passion and hunger for Jesus in our eyes?
  2. Common Goal – The Royals players want to win the World Series. Perhaps John Piper said it best for us Christians in this generation; “All of history is moving toward one great goal, the white-hot worship of God and His Son among all the peoples of the earth.”
  3. Humility – Maybe because there are no superstars, but in many of the interviews, I heard over and over again these players lifting their teammates up. They recognize that it takes everyone playing at their best to win, not simply depending on a few people.  They are laying down their own egos to achieve a common goal.  I once heard Charles Swindoll say that people like him, who are well known public figures get their fame here on earth, but those who are in the back ground doing things for Jesus and others, who do not see the limelight but make great impact for the Kingdom of God, will be famous in heaven.  Charles Spurgeon, the famous preacher, once asked about the reason for the power of his sermons, took the questioner down to the cell of the church where people were praying for his ministry of the Word with fervor.
  4. Skills – Not having superstars on the team does not mean that these players do not have skills. They had to be better than many to be at the Major League level.  They practice over and over again, and try to find new techniques to become better players.  Are we honing our skills? It is interesting to me how many Christians will say that they live by the words of the Bible, yet have never read through it even once.  In North America, Biblical literacy is diminishing in alarming rate.  (Check out articles like this).  Our salvation through Jesus is not simply a ticket into heaven, but it is a citizenship certificate to the Kingdom of God.  That Kingdom doesn’t begin at Jesus’s Second Coming, but it is already here, waiting for the consummation.  We are already Kingdom citizens who represent heaven in this world, now.  We are God’s ambassadors.   It would do us well to hone our skills in being good ambassadors.
  5. Trust – Much of the success of any team sports is in trusting others on the team to do their part. The short stop throws to second trusting that the second baseman will be there, and the second baseman turns that pivot and throws to first trusting that the first base is covered.  Do we trust our teammates to be in “position”?  Are we getting in position so that our fellow Christians can do their part?
  6. Chemistry – It is fun to watch these Royals. You can tell that they have chemistry.  Christianity happens in community – you can say it is a team. In whatever team or church community that I have been a part of that was thriving (and I have been on many such teams), having fun with one another has been the best way to promote good team dynamics and building good communities.  Are we having fun with each other?  What memories are we building together?  If no one will, let me give you the permission to go have fun with your teammates.  Go throw some darts.  Go hiking together.  Go away to a cottage,  and spend some fun time together and build memories!

Of course, these are not exhaustive in what makes a good team.  I’m sure you can list some, too; maybe even better ones.  The problem isn’t that teams like the Orioles don’t know this.  It is in the execution of these things that the goal is actually achieved.  And I believe the key to all this is the sixth point – chemistry – go have some fun!

I don’t know whether the Royals will win the 2014 World Series or not.  But it sure is fun watching them play.  And maybe, just maybe, the whole point of what we are called to do isn’t about bringing millions to “the white-hot worship” of Jesus Christ.  Maybe the whole point is not simply to “glorify Him” either, but “To enjoy Him forever”!  Which, if we listen to Piper long enough, he will remind us that enjoying Him is actually glorifying Him – isn’t this what worship is?

Go Royals!

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