In Ephesians 4, Paul, with great words of passion, charges a community of people to live in unity, humility, gentleness, patience, peace (4:1-2), and to appreciate the special giftedness of each person (4:7). Paul is wanting this group of people to work as a team that understands their roles, knows their strengths and limitations, and appreciates the strength and roles of others on their team. I’ve really come to appreciate this passage in my life as I get the opportunity to work with teams, both in Nashville and in other countries.
Over the past month, we've facilitated experiences for two SLAM groups, summer interns, students from the Institute, and our interns in El Salvador--each group having their own story, cultural upbringing, strengths, insecurities, age differences, and language. As I prepared for the trip I knew that there would be some challenges in bringing this many diverse people together in order to serve as a team, and demonstrate the love of God. So, I found myself praying according to Paul's words in Ephesians 4. I prayed those on the trip would be unified and characterized by humility.
On the trip, I witnessed team members admitting when they did not know how to accomplish the tasks given to them, but saying they wanted to learn (humility). I saw team leaders care for those having a hard time with the shock of cultural differences with gentleness, only to find the person completely engaged by the end of the week.
Paul gives us these characteristics of a healthy body (humility, gentleness, patience--resulting in peace), but I was happy to find those very things portrayed in our groups! 35 individuals were unified into a functioning body. There was no reason for anyone to trust people they just met, but they chose to do it anyway. They set out with love, trust and faith that God would do great things through them as they worked together to serve.
As they served the people of El Salvador, they learned one another's stories and appreciated the strengths of each other and their benefit to the team. By the end of the short trip together there were not enough cameras to take all of the pictures of their friends--people they had just met a week ago.
Though Paul’s plea in Ephesians 4 was directly focused on a group of people that were living together for a long duration of time, I think the message can still stand true for our brief moments together--whenever we work together to do God's work. On the most recent trip, God's power was displayed in bringing people together to serve in unity with gentleness, patience, and peace.
What if we all determined to live like this in the communities we live in? A trip like this showed what was possible, but now is the time to carry that forward. A healthy body (team) isn't just necessary for a mission week--it's how God is known in the world, and he needs us to demonstrate great humility, gentleness and patience all the time. Join us!