by Tom Goodman
December 1, 2005
Wow, what an excellent article. I hope you find—or build—your dream team here at Hillcrest! Let me share the article with you in total.
Building a Kingdom Dream Team: Communities Close to a Leader's Heart
—by Bill Hybels
It was the kind of phone call you never forget. "He's gone," a voice whispered on the other end of the line. "We know your schedule and the distance involved, so no one expects you to come to the funeral, but we thought you should
know." Two days later my wife, Lynne, and I were standing by the young widow of one of Willow Creek's earliest staff members.
Tom was only in his forties, but leukemia had ravaged his body and taken his life. After the funeral service, Tom's brother pulled me off to the side and expressed similar thoughts. "I've never met you, but I just want you to know that
from a brother's perspective Tom's years on the staff at your church were the best years of his life. I never knew him to be happier. I never knew him to be more excited or fulfilled than when he was on the team at Willow."
Then he grabbed my arm and choked out these words, "Tom was the only brother I ever had. Thanks for including him. Thanks for loving him and challenging him. Thanks for giving him a place to belong."
I realized afresh what a privilege it is to be part of a loving, unified, energized team. How many people, I wondered, go to their graves without ever having experienced that?
Jesus provides us a model of a leader who built a cohesive, loving team. One incident toward the end of his life is particularly touching. On the eve of his betrayal, he gathered his team together in the Upper Room and drew them close
with these words: "I earnestly desire to share this meal with you." His instructions for the future were specific. They were to continue this practice of remembering him, in community. Think of it. The first time
communion was ever taken it was a team experience. And it's supposed to continue to be a team experience.
Having just turned fifty, I have recently spent a lot of time thinking about what is essential to me. I realize that there are really only two things, besides my family, that really matter to me. First, I want to do God's bidding for the
rest of my life. That's primary. But in addition to that, I want to do God's bidding in authentic community with people I love and who love me.
When these two essentials are realities, I have "life in all its fullness." Carrying people in my heart while we minister together, and being carried in their hearts as well, is what it means to be on a "dream team." It's almost like
enjoying a bit of heaven on earth.
I'm keenly aware that many leaders have never experienced the richness of ministry life I'm describing. What a loss to never know the mystery of a God-given solution coming to a ministry team that's been stuck, confused, and totally discouraged
over a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. What a loss to never hear a timid team member say with Spirit-prompted boldness, "I know this sounds like a crazy idea, but what if we..." What a loss to never look around the circle as eyes light
up, bodies lean forward, and a team member says, "That's a fantastic idea!"
And then, what a terrible loss to miss what happens when the seed of an idea that has been watered with input from the team finally blossoms into a perfect ministry plan. How sad to miss the future shared moment when team members look back with
amazement and someone says, "Do you remember when God broke through? Do you remember when that idea was born? Can you believe all that happened since then? Can you believe that we got to do this together?"
Those are holy moments, moments that bring you to your knees in thanksgiving for what God has done through the ragtag team of which you are a part. No leader should miss those kinds of moments.
A few years ago one of our WCA teams traveled to Germany to serve and train pastors. For months before we arrived, our German team worked tirelessly to promote the conference. The response was so overwhelming that instead of doing one
conference we ended up doing two conferences back-to-back. As soon as the first conference ended, we had to move the equipment to another venue so that three hours later we could start the second three-day conference. It was grueling to
say the least.
Toward the end of the second conference we were utterly exhausted. Each message became a greater challenge to give and each song a greater challenge to sing. So when the team huddled together before and after each session, we did our best
to cheer each other on and pump each other up. Then, during one of the final sessions, our vocal team sang an old hymn:
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell,
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win:
His erring child He reconciled
And Pardoned from his sin.
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.
O Love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angel's song.
On the last chorus, each vocalist dug down deep, summoning a final reserve of strength. To use an athletic expression, they left it all out on the field. When they finished, the place was paralyzed. No one applauded. No one
moved. No one talked. 3,500 of us sat in stunned silence, awestruck by the love of God. Finally I walked to the podium and dismissed the crowd.
As people quietly exited, I went to find a space where I could be alone with God. I stood in the corner of an empty backstage room with my head down, my heart overwhelmed with the power and greatness of God. Several minutes passed like
that, but then I realized I was not alone. The team had huddled around me with their heads bowed. When we lifted our heads and looked at each other, it was obvious we were all thinking the same thing: "This is as good as it gets —
being powerfully used by God-together." Not one of us could have experienced the moment we had just shared alone. Only together, working as a team under the inspiration and power of God, could we have enjoyed that remarkable experience.
How I yearn for every church leader to enjoy holy team moments like that. It's what it means to live out the dream of Jesus, who prayed in his High Priestly prayer, "Oh God, may my followers become one."
Find this article here.
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