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When teamwork is hard work

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

May 23, 2005



Our work team was falling apart. One of our five members rarely showed up, didn't prepare for meetings, and, when she did show up, derailed whatever process the rest of us were working on. It was frustrating, and tempers were rising.

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We decided to ignore this woman as best we could and to keep working on our projects. Although I agreed with my team members that her lack of participation was hurting our team, I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. I wished we'd communicated our frustrations to her before deciding to shut her out.

The next day this woman came to a team meeting and insisted on being fully included. An argument broke out between her and another team member, and the accusations flew.

As they turned on each other, I could genuinely see both sides of the situation. The woman we'd shut out felt sidelined and marginalized. The other woman was adamant that we'd been let down one too many times and said she didn't trust or like the woman. She flat-out refused to work with her.

I'm not a confrontational person, so I tried to play the role of peacemaker. I reached out to both team members, justifying and explaining what I thought each person was saying. I suggested that we give this woman a second chance. We all came to a sort of agreement, and the meeting broke up. Afterward, I found out the team was furious with me for "betraying" them - for, in their view, taking this other woman's side and attempting to justify her actions.

I was completely taken aback. I'd tried to do the right thing - to be inclusive, kind, and a peacemaker - and my team turned on me. I'm accustomed to praying to God for answers, so it was natural for me to pray in this situation.

I called an experienced Christian Scientist to get some ideas, and she shared a passage from the Bible. At one point, Abraham had to separate himself from his nephew, Lot, because their families and possessions had gotten so large there wasn't room for them both. Their herdsmen fought, and Abraham graciously said to Lot: "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren" (Gen. 13:8). The practitioner recommended that I pray to understand that there truly was no strife among any of God's children, which I did.

The next morning, while reading the Bible Lesson outlined in the Christian Science Quarterly, I came across this comforting passage in Psalms: "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them" (Ps. 119:165). I thought, "This is talking about me! I love God, and I know He loves me - and everyone - and so I refuse to be offended. I know I did the right thing in trying to promote peace, and I can trust that I am safe and blessed for that action."

When I met up with my team members, I could still feel some tension, so I continued to pray.

Several days later, I received a phone call from the woman who'd led the group to direct their anger toward me. She said, "I realized you were right to be a peacemaker. We need to work together on these projects, and we wouldn't be a group anymore if you hadn't taken a stand. And I feel like [the woman who caused the problem] is getting better, and I actually believe I can work with her now."

I was completely bowled over. I thanked her for calling and assured her I'd had the interests of the group at heart and that I was grateful we could move forward together in harmony. After we hung up, I rejoiced and thanked God for guiding us all toward a peaceful resolution.

Several weeks have passed, and the peace in our group has remained. We are a strong team, and have completed several projects efficiently and well. The woman who once never showed up is now a team player, and the rapport within the group is trusting and appreciative. I'm so grateful for the power of God to adjust all situations for good.

O glorious hope! there remaineth
a rest for the righteous,
a rest in Christ, a peace in Love. The thought of it stills complaint; the heaving surf of life's troubled sea foams itself away, and underneath is a deep-settled calm.

Mary Baker Eddy

(Founder of Christian Science)

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