Maintaining unity in our team
Strong ministries require strong teams. Strong teams require strong relationships. Strong relationships require each member of the team to promote and protect the team’s unity.
Based on Philippians 2:2–5 and other Scriptures, I regard ‘unity’ as ‘working together with one heart and mind by maintaining an ‘others-centred attitude’’.
Here are eight principles for how we can foster and preserve unity:
1. Adopt a servant mind-set
The motivation of a spiritual leader is not power, popularity, prominence or prestige. Rather, it is selflessness, service and sacrifice. Our focus must not be on the position we hold, but on the service we offer (Philippians 2:5–9).
2. Accept that all ministries are valuable
In his metaphor of Christ’s many-membered ‘body’, Paul wrote how each of us has a unique gift. One of the keys is to accept and affirm this diversity. Unity in music is not uniformity, but different notes in harmony (1 Cor. 12:12–31; Rom 12:3–8; Eph 4:1–16).
3. Embrace a team mentality
Paul wrote of being (v.2) ‘…like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.’ The vocabulary of a team is not ‘I’ but ‘we’, not my ‘rights’ but my ‘responsibilities’. Think like a team, pray as a team, work as a team and be a team.
4. Resolve conflicts quickly and biblically
There may well be frictions, misunderstandings or tensions. We preserve unity by dealing with them as soon as possible in the way prescribed in Scripture. We must not allow things to fester (Matthew 18:15).
5. Guard our personal attitudes
Authentic unity begins as an internal attitude (Philippians 2:3). Most disunity begins with a bad attitude, but can be resolved by a change of attitude. We must maintain humility and sustain a vigilant watch over our attitudes.
6. Regard others above ourselves
Philippians 2:4 says that ‘…each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.’ One guiding principle for teams is to be others-centred.
7. Pray for one another
Ultimately, unity is a work of the Spirit. We need to pray for our leaders, one another and for the Spirit to work in lives. The team that prays together stays together.
8. Unite behind our team leader.
To nurture unity, each member needs to exhibit an inward and outward attitude of respect toward leaders. Consider the words of Jonathan’s armour-bearer: ‘Do all that you have in mind…I am with you heart and soul’ (1 Sam. 14:7).
International Director of World Outreach since January 2017.
Bruce has been married to Fiona since 1983 and lives in Melbourne. They have three grown children and one granddaughter.