My daughter is in her second year of graduate school and is currently doing asynchronous learning, so she’s been home with us a few weeks. It’s been fun for me to listen in on some of her lectures and to remember the excitement and enthusiasm of being at the threshold of my career.
One thing she is not loving, and I think we might all agree with her, is group projects. In fact, I am not so sure I’ve ever heard any student speak fondly of group work, yet it continues to be assigned by teachers at almost every grade level in almost every academic setting. So, why do we hate it and why is it important?
The answer to both of those questions is one in the same…differences.
We hate group work because people don’t do things the way we want them done. Perhaps their approach or their timelines are different. Perhaps we can’t depend on them or don’t trust they’ll do their part. Some like to take over and lead and some are happy to let things be done for them. There may be too many leaders and not enough followers or the opposite might occur and no one wants to lead. It’s a test in patience, perseverance and resolve. It means letting go of some of our own ego and being willing to look at something from another angle.
But those are the same reasons that it is important, maybe even imperative. Unless you move to a remote island and live alone, life always requires group work. We live and work in community…which means we live and work with people. Many who don’t think like us, look like us or believe what we might believe. And that makes things both challenging and amazing at the same time.
If you’ve ever had the privilege of being on a team that works, it is beautiful. When each person brings his or her expertise, talent, personality and best self to the table, everyone benefits.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (NLT) says this:
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”
It’s a beautiful illustration of how we are designed to work together, just as the body is made complete by each part. When one part isn’t fully functioning, the whole body suffers. Every single part matters, none more than another and every part is different.
As frustrating as we sometimes feel group work can be, it was first assigned by God Himself. It is how He designed the body of Christ.
I love tools such as the Enneagram, Spiritual Gift inventories and even Gary Chapman’s Love Language quizzes because I believe they help us to better understand the part we’ve been given and how we can use it to God’s glory. The best way to honor our Creator is to fully be who He created us to be. In the words of the late Adrian Rogers, we have to “first accept ourselves, then be ourselves, then give of ourselves.”
So, I encourage you to ask yourself:
1) Am I doing my part in the body of Christ?
2) Am I allowing others to do their part although they may do it differently than I do?
3) How can I honor God by using my gifts, talents and personality to His glory?
Here are a few resources that may be helpful to you as you answer these questions.
And if you want to explore this more, I'd love to help! Reach out for a free coaching session and let me help get you on the right path. https://www.stephanicook.org/contact
You matter and we all need you to show up for the team! It’s the most important group project you’ll ever do!
Stephani Cook is a life coach, speaker, writer, podcast host and the creator of On Purpose Coaching. Through On Purpose Coaching she helps others to improve relationships and to discover intentional abundant living. She does that through group and/or individual coaching, live event speaking or Enneagram workshops in private and corporate settings.
To connect with Stephani about the possibility of coaching or speaking to your group or organization, visit her website http://www.stephanicook.org