What makes successful teamwork

A Christian Science perspective.

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If you are part of a group, does it seem hard to get things done – and done rightly? Setting public policy, governing a nonprofit agency, serving on a jury, running a household, or sitting on a planning board, all demand unity of thought and action. But effective teamwork sometimes can seem like a pipe dream, as divergent opinions and personalities elbow one another, delaying action and forestalling progress.

Yet the first two lines of the Lord’s Prayer – a prayer given to humanity by Christ Jesus more than 2,000 years ago – furnish the basis for productive and amicable teamwork. The prayer starts with, “Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” “Our Father” is supreme good, the one Creator, whom the Bible defines as all-wise, benevolent, and just. The humble Jesus himself said, “There is none good but one, that is, God” (Mark 10:18).

Everyone on a team wants the best outcome. Each one wants to see good prevail. Just as a beam of light can be broken down into the fundamental colors of the spectrum, goodness can be further delineated as progress, unity, harmony, order, logic, helpfulness, aid, justice, integrity, and so on. What member of a team would not want to see such qualities of good manifested? The ultimate purpose of a team, then, is to see more of God expressed.

If God is our Father, the divine Principle of all good, then His creation – each of us as His sons and daughters – naturally gravitates toward good, appreciates it, and honors it. The sentence “Hallowed be thy name” can be seen as a statement of our true purpose to adore and revere God’s nature and all that is good, useful, fair, and upright. One could even say that our hearts belong to good, to God, since logic disallows the notion that God creates any son or daughter at variance with Himself. Like produces like.

A passage in the Bible hints at our true purpose and motivation: “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple” (Ps. 27:4). God’s “house” and “temple” can be considered spiritually as the dwelling place of our thinking – our consciousness of goodness, unselfishness, and love. These qualities, expressed daily, unite humanity and promote all progress.

What if you’re in a group, operating in good faith but finding no response from others? It’s helpful to recognize and hold firmly in mind that your true nature and motive cannot be hidden. Entrenched self-interest, self-justification, stubbornness, or intractability cannot impede progress and can hold no appeal for other team workers. Christian Science teaches that such inward-turning tendencies are neither native nor desirable but are errors or inversions of truth, similar to distortions of the true reflection in a broken mirror. The man and woman of God’s creating is not fundamentally designed to be self-seeking any more than God is.

With this recognition of reality, our unconditional love for others begins to flow, purifying our own expectations. We may begin to see others’ good qualities around the edges. Perhaps their hidden talents and unique contributions are just waiting in the wings. Our awakened sense of love for God and for His good creation will temper our words with greater tenderness and forgiveness, and, like a sweet fragrance that fills a room, will bless all those present. This opens the door for heart-to-heart discussions and the respect and patience that allow solutions and decisions to take shape. Even a sense of humor can break a logjam. No evil can abide in the presence of active good.

In the degree that we begin to identify with good alone and “hallow” it as the sole power in our lives, we’ll see more of it in evidence. Because goodness is God-derived and therefore present in every heart, one’s unique expression of good must blend with another’s in sweet concord, grace, and deference. As the first chapter of the Bible uncategorically states, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). We can let what God saw and what Jesus lived set our course for progress and unity.

Here, O God, Thy healing presence
Lifts our thoughts from self and sin,
Fills with light their hidden places,
When Thy love is welcomed in.
Here Thy tender sweet persuasions
Turn us home to heavenly ways,
While our hearts, unsealed, adoring,
Pour the fragrance of Thy praise.

(Maria Louise Baum, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 109)

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