Summary: I see five team-building exercises that can benefit each of us today.
A newspaper photographer wanted to get pictures of a fire so his newspaper agreed to charter a plane for him. When he arrived at the airport, he jumped into the plane and yelled, “Take off!” Once in the air, the photographer yelled to the pilot to make two or three low passes over the fire. The pilot asked, “Why do you want me to do that?” The photographer proudly replied in an overconfident voice: “Because I’m a photojournalist and I need to take pictures of the fire. Get me as close as you can!” To which the pilot answered in a very shaky voice, “You mean you’re not the flight instructor?”
Both the pilot and the photographer had made some incorrect assumptions. They both had expectations that were not met, but they sure had to work as a team in order to accomplish their assignment. As Paul wraps up his inspired playbook to his understudy named Titus, he concludes with some practical teaching about teamwork. As teammates, we must never assume or presume that things will be easy. Sometimes our expectations of others are not met and we can get discouraged. Because we are selfish by nature, and tend to not always think the best of others, we need the help of God in order to function as the family of God.
Let’s take a look at the final verses in the Book of Titus. Please turn to Titus 3:12-15. I see five team-building exercises that can benefit each of us today.
1. Don’t go it alone. Notice verse 12: “As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there.” As the winter is approaching, and travel on the seas becomes dangerous, he wants to make sure that Titus will be able to spend some time with him. The phrase “do your best” is a command with a sense of urgency. We could read it this way: “Do your utmost to come.” In order for that to happen, he is planning to send one of two men to take over the tasks of Titus on Crete. Let me make some observations.
Paul was into personal discipleship. Titus is under stress from the mess in Crete, and so Paul wants him to come away to get refreshed. He is really following the example of Jesus. When the disciples were involved in ministry, they returned a bit tired and we read in Mark 6:32 that Jesus got alone with them: “So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” I’m sure that Paul reviewed what happened on Crete and then proceeded to equip Titus for his next assignment. Interestingly, Paul did the same thing with Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:21: “Do your best to get here before winter.”
Paul was not a lone ranger. Did you know that the apostle mentions over 100 people by name in his letters? Paul was a total team player.
Paul partnered with people. Even though Paul was an apostle, he worked in tandem with believers from all classes. When writing to the Philippians in 1:5, he said, “Because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
Friendships with faithful followers can help us grow. The church was created to be a community of interdependent people as Romans 12:5 states: “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. I need you and you need me. Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
The best friendships develop through shared experiences. Most of Paul’s relationships were cultivated in the crucible of ministry partnerships. Some of the best friends you will ever have are those you serve side-by-side with.
People are more important than programs. Paul does not tell the church to keep programs going but to keep friendships fresh. I love how he bears his heart in 1 Corinthians 16:7: “I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.”
It’s beneficial to have friends who are different from us. Paul was friends with a doctor and a runaway slave. He mixed it up with those from a Jewish background and those who didn’t even know who Abraham was. He was closer to some than others because most were faithful and a few were fickle.
Authenticity is the key to lasting friendships. Paul was a real person who sent a real letter to a real person. The Bible did not just fall out of the sky but contains personal letters filled with warmth and emotion. Paul wanted to further train Titus, but he also craved his companionship.