Walden’s Words: Team work makes a team work

Ken Walden, UMR Columnist

As a little boy growing up, my dad explained to me the importance of team work on the athletic field and at home completing chores, among other aspects of life. One of his favorite phrases was “the more hands, the lighter the load.”

My dad would remind me that I was not the only player on the athletic team and that any kind of self-imposed pressure was unnecessary and unproductive. He also reiterated the importance of completing my house chores while he highlighted my privileges.

As I grew older and entered ordained ministry, my dad described the significance of various roles within congregational life that helped to make it work effectively. Those father-to-son lessons have served me well in both my military and civilian ministry.

The military can be considered a large team. It takes a team to ensure a plane is flying, a ship is sailing, a tank is functioning, and other military operations successfully occur. A typical military team can include mechanics, pilots, physicians, chaplains, drivers, engineers, and navigators to name a few. Some techniques that assist in the team work process include training, communication, and mentoring along the way.

In my civilian pastoral ministry, I understand how essential components interact together as it relates to leadership, followership, and delegation. All three should be applied and equally celebrated within a faith community. Congregational life should be a team effort at almost every level. I think the military does a good job in making clear distinctions in roles and responsibilities.

An early lesson for most of us was the topic of the Holy Trinity. This sacred mystery displays the concept of team work at the highest level of Christianity. The Holy Trinity is often described as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is one of the mysteries of God.

From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelations, the Holy Bible displays God working with a variety of people, places, and things. The Lord’s Prayer is mainly made up of plural words such as “Our Father…, Give us…, Forgive us…, and Lead us…”, recognizing the importance of acknowledging one another in meaningful ways. God desires humanity to work with one another.

The military of the United States is currently one of the most diverse armed services in the world. The USA’s military reflects the country’s diversity. Our military does not exclude certain peoples through discriminatory policies like some other countries practice.

A growing amount of research shows a greater level of diversity helps organizations perform at higher levels than organizations with little diversity. We are fortunate to have different cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, and genders currently serving in the USA’s military. Teams exist in a variety of different colors, shapes, and sizes; your military team is working for you.

There’s a valuable lesson here, wherever we reside: team work makes a team work.

Ken Walden, UMR Columnist

Ken Walden

Ken Walden is an Air Force Chaplain Reservist and United Methodist Clergyperson. He is the author of Challenges Faced by Iraq War Reservists and Their Families.

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Dear Ken: It's funny how God works sometimes, isn't it? I just posted an article on this very same subject in our churches newsletter I entitled "Helping Christian Warriors." Every year, Fabulous Fridays has a salute to the people who have served in the military and those who keep us safe today; our civilian firefighters and police and Red Cross, those who do Search and Rescue and the dispatchers who send them out. They deserve to be cheered also, because they also do battle for us. They had us line up in the middle of the street, and started with… Read more »

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