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How to Be a Good Team Player - Life of Paul Part 56

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
December 14, 2020 7:00 am

How to Be a Good Team Player - Life of Paul Part 56

So What? / Lon Solomon

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December 14, 2020 7:00 am

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You know, when it comes to building a strong and effective organization, as we saw in our film clip from The Four Feathers, the military learned a long time ago that it's all about team.

It's all about the man on our left and the man on our right. To paraphrase the country song, the military was building team when building team wasn't cool. Now today, that's all we hear about in our modern world is team.

The government talks about it, industry talks about it. We have even churches and schools that talk about team. Team has kind of become the magic elixir of the 21st century. In fact, I was reading an article several weeks ago in Sports Illustrated about the Anaheim Angels.

You remember them. They were the guys who won the World Series without a single, highly overpaid superstar. And the article was all about how the Angels rediscovered the power of team. How they proved once again that a good team can exert an influence way beyond just the sum of its individual parts.

Now this is what I want us to talk about today. Because you see, here at McLean Bible Church, well, we have a mission just like the Anaheim Angels did. Their mission was to win the World Series.

Our mission is to rock Washington, D.C. for Jesus Christ. But just like they, if we're going to get the job done, we have to build a powerful, effective team. And folks, teams are only as powerful and effective as the number of good team members that make up that team. And so today I want to talk to us about being good team members of a church team, an industry team, a government team.

It doesn't matter. These principles will work anywhere. But I especially want to apply them to being part of this McLean Bible Church team. And we want to use the apostle Paul's life as our classroom once again. So if you've got a Bible, how about opening it with me to Acts chapter 18, Acts 18, and we're going to be coming there in just a moment. But just before we look at our passage, let's do a little bit of review. Remember the apostle Paul is on his second missionary journey.

Let's show you a map. And remember the apostle Paul crossed over from the city of Troas here in northwestern Turkey, went to Philippi in northern Greece, then to Thessalonica and Berea in northern Greece. And in every one of these cities, he led thousands of people to Christ. He established churches. Then he went to Athens, south to Athens, where he preached to the intellectual elite of the Roman world. And now as we pick up the story, he's here in Corinth. Well, it's interesting to me that so many people who read the New Testament and read about the apostle Paul, that they have this attitude that the apostle Paul was a lone ranger.

When, as I've been trying to show you for months now, actually nothing could be farther from the truth. The apostle Paul was a fabulous team builder. And when he crossed over from Troas into Greece, the apostle Paul had with him a three man team of dynamic proportions. Their names were Silas, Timothy and Dr. Luke.

Now, just for the sake of review, let's make sure we understand who these three guys were that were part of his team. Silas was a Jewish believer who had been living in Jerusalem. And Paul met Silas when he went to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Council of Acts chapter 15. After Barnabas and Paul split, Paul recruited Silas to go with him on his second missionary journey. And so Silas was actually an initial partner with Paul on this journey. Then we have Timothy. Timothy was a young man that Silas and Paul met at the beginning of the second journey in the city of Lystra. Timothy had a Jewish mother. He had a Gentile father.

He was highly educated. And the best part of all is he was already a believer who was well versed in the scriptures. Well, they picked up Timothy.

And then finally, the last member of the team joined up at Troas just before Paul and the team crossed over to Greece. His name was Luke. As a matter of fact, he was Dr. Luke.

He was a physician who practiced medicine there in the city of Troas. And we don't know for sure whether or not he was a believer before he met Paul or whether he and Paul ran into each other one day down at Starbucks and they sat down and had a coffee together. And Paul led him to Christ.

We don't know. But one thing we do know is when Paul set sail for Greece, Dr. Luke hung a sign over his doctor shingle that said, John preaching and he never came back again. As a matter of fact, Luke accompanied Paul for the rest of his life all the way to his death in Rome in 66 A.D. and wrote, Luke did, the book of Acts, the account, of course, of Paul's life that we're studying right now.

This was the team that Paul had put together. And as we pick up the story, let's go back to our map here in Acts 18. And just to remind you, Paul has left Dr. Luke here in Philippi. He's left Silas and Timothy in Thessalonica and Berea, left them behind to care for the fledgling believers and the infant churches that he established there. And he actually arrives in Corinth by himself. Okay, now we pick up the story, chapter 1, verse 1 rather of chapter 18. After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.

And there he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife, Priscilla, because Emperor Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them and because he was a tent maker, as they were, he stayed and worked with them. On Sabbath, every Saturday, he would reason in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jewish people and Gentile people to believe in Jesus. Now these verses tell us that when Paul first arrived in Corinth, that he went to work. He went to work Monday through Friday making tents, supporting himself, and he would preach on the weekend. Now it's interesting to also notice here that for the entire 18 months that Paul stayed here in Corinth, his team were self-supporting for the entire time. They never took a single denarius from the believers who were there in town.

You say, well why not? Well the answer is that Paul knew the people in this town. He knew that if he accepted money from the believers there, that the people in this town would question his motives, they would impugn his character, and so to protect his integrity, and more importantly to protect the integrity of Jesus Christ, Paul and his team never took a dime from anybody in Corinth.

They supported themselves the whole time they were there. You say, wow Lon, you know that's amazing that the apostle Paul could have made the impact that he did on this city, just being a weekend preacher. Well he wasn't a weekend preacher most of the time that he was there. Look at verse 5. Verse 5 says, And when Silas and Timothy arrived in town from Macedonia, that is from Berea and Thessalonica, Paul was able to devote himself exclusively, we would say full time, to preaching.

Now I got a question for you. My question is, if the apostle Paul never took a dime from the believers there in Corinth, if he and his whole team were self-supporting, and if, as verse 5 says, Paul stopped working, stopped earning money personally, my question is, how did he and his team pay their bills for the 18 months they were in town? Now the answer is, very simple, they paid their bills because Silas and Timothy went to work so that the apostle Paul could preach Monday through Friday.

That's the answer to the question. Silas and Timothy, as a matter of fact, we find in 1 Thessalonians 2, the Bible tells us, that everywhere Paul went on his second and third missionary journey, his team members would routinely go to work so that he would be free to do the work of God, to preach and teach the Bible all week long. Now what we see demonstrated here is what I want us to get for today. And that is namely that the great effectiveness of the apostle Paul on his missionary journeys, the fact that he was able to lead thousands and thousands of people to Christ, the fact that he was able to establish churches everywhere he went, the fact that he was able to lay a spiritual foundation that would eventually change the history of the whole Western world, what was responsible for this incredible level of impact that Paul had, was not just Paul's talent. He was a very talented man. But what was responsible was not just Paul's anointing from God. He definitely had one of those.

But what was responsible just as much was this team of godly men that was with him, without this team of godly men, who among other things went to work so that Paul could preach all day, Paul could never have achieved what he did on his missionary journeys. Everybody see that? Hello? You see that? Okay, I mean, I know it's Daylight Savings Week and you guys are a little groggy, but I just want to make sure you're with me.

Everybody sees that, right? Okay, good. Now, that's as far as we want to go in the passage because it's time for our question. And you all know our question, right? So here we go. Here we go. Ready?

One, two, three. So what? Say, Lon, so what?

Say, ah, that's great. I mean, I'm happy for Paul. He had a wonderful team. You know, yada, yada, yada.

What difference does that make to me? Well, let's see if we can make that connect for you. You know, history has known some great teams. I mean, there's been Turner and Hooch.

Yeah, of course. There's been Butch Cassidy and Sundance. There's been, some of us old folks remember Ozzie and Harriet. There were, how about Anthony and Cleopatra.

There's Kobe Bryant and Shaq. Right. Here's one for you. There's Morpheus, Trinity, and?

Very good. What's wrong with the rest of you people? Neo's the answer.

You didn't see the Matrix. What's wrong with you people? Oh, my gosh. What am I going to do with you guys?

All right. So, great teams in history. But you know what? In all of human history, I don't think there's been a more powerful or more effective team than the one that the apostle Paul had. Silas, Timothy, Dr. Luke. What a team. And friends, this shouldn't surprise us because the Bible tells us that God designed his work to operate best on the basis of team. The greatest churches, the greatest missionary outreaches, the greatest campus ministries in history have all been about team. Which means that as followers of Jesus Christ, you and I here today, God wants us to be good team members because the more good team members that a ministry has, the more effective and powerful that ministry can be for God in his glory.

So here's the question I want us to close with today. What made these three men such great team members? So that you and I can copy these qualities. And let me just say as we look into this, let me remind you that if you're a follower of Jesus Christ here today and you call McLean Bible Church your church home, you are a team member here at McLean Bible Church. Now the only question is whether or not you're a good team member, but you are a team member. And our goal is to make you the greatest team member you can possibly be if you're here and you go to some other church. Hey, we want you to be the best team member you can be at that church. So what does it take to be a great team member so the team can have a powerful influence for Jesus Christ? Well there are four qualities I see in these guys.

Let me tell you what they are. Number one, these men were trustworthy people. Listen to what Paul says about Timothy in Philippians 2. He says, I hope to send Timothy to you soon, for I have no one else like him, a person who will genuinely look out for your interests. For everyone else looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ, but you know of Timothy's proven record. Now what is the apostle Paul really saying about Timothy here? What he's saying is Timothy is a man I know I can trust. And it's obvious Paul felt the same way about Luke and about Silas.

This is why Paul was willing to lead them in charge of these new believers, in charge of these baby churches like he did, because he believed with all of his heart he could trust these three men that they would do the right thing. Friends, trustworthiness is probably the single most important ingredient in being a good team member. This is why the military seeks to engender into every member of every team this deep and abiding sense of mutual trust.

Your life's in my hand, my life's in your hands. You're watching my back, I'm watching your back. Our lives are connected together utterly in a mutual trust relationship and the military does this because they know that this is the secret to building a powerful team. Likewise, the most important ingredient that you and I can bring to a church team, a spiritual team, a ministry team, is this ingredient called trustworthiness. My team members can trust me. They can trust me to keep my word. They can trust me to conduct myself in an honorable, godly way so that I don't embarrass the team and I don't embarrass the Lord Jesus. They can trust me to tell the truth, to be a person of full disclosure, to live in the light and not in the darkness. They can trust me to always speak well of other members of the team. They can trust me that they never have to worry about their six o'clock while I'm around because I got their six o'clock. This is how you build a great team with team members that you can trust and this is the kind of team member God wants you and me to be. Number two, why were these guys such great team members?

Because number two, they were humble men who had true servant attitudes. Now, hey, think about it for a moment. You're Silas, okay, or you're Timothy. For months now, you've been up in Thessalonica. You've been up in Berea.

Paul hasn't been around. You've been holding the work of God there together all by yourself. You've been preaching. You've been teaching. You've been counseling. You've been evangelizing. You've been providing leadership for the churches there. You've been holding and discipling believers together.

You've been facing hostile mobs. And now suddenly, you arrive in Corinth. You're reunited with Paul and Paul says, Hey, fellas, I've got this really strategic thing I need you to do for the sake of our ministry. And you go, yeah, Paul, what do you want me to do? And Paul says, I want you to go out and get a job. And you go, what? Yeah, you're going out and get a job, guys, so that I am free to go preach and teach all week long. Now, don't you think it might cross your mind if you were Silas and Timothy to go, Hey, wait a minute.

Wait a minute. You're not the only guy that can preach, huh? You're not the only guy that can teach, huh? We've been up in Thessalonica and Berea doing a very fine job, thank you, without your help. How come you're the only guy who gets to go preach and teach?

How come we got to go to work so you can go out there and do this? You ever think they might have thought that? You know, friends, I'm very impressed with the fact that the Bible knows nothing about this, that the Bible doesn't indicate at all that they complained, that they argued, that they jockeyed for position, they resisted in any way. I'm impressed that they said, Hey, you know what?

Paul is obviously the best preacher, the best teacher and the best evangelist we've got. And if we have to go do manual labor so our team can put its best foot forward, then hey, no problem. Now, this is humility. And what this teaches us is that a great team member is a team member that has humility. Friends, it is impossible to build a good team with arrogant team members.

It is impossible. Now, the Lord Jesus knew this. It's why He said, He commented to this, Luke 22. He said, I am among you as the one who serves. He said, Matthew chapter 20, I didn't come to be served, but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many. Friends, in the same way, great team members are men and women who serve. No task is too menial, no job is too dirty, no assignment is too lowly. These are people who derive real joy from serving Christ and serving other people, that's a great team member.

And that's the people around which you can build a great team. By the way, before we go on, let me just take a moment and say, if you're here and you've never trusted Jesus as your real and personal Savior, remember what Jesus just said. He said, I came to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many. Friends, you know what a ransom is? A ransom is a price somebody pays to liberate somebody else. And if you're here today, it's important to be reminded that Jesus paid a price to liberate you and me from the judgment of God. The price that He paid was His own life, His own blood shed on the cross. And if you've never accepted that ransom, then my question to you is, why not? Why wouldn't you take the greatest offer ever made that Jesus wants to ransom you from the judgment of God and it doesn't cost you a thing? Hey, something to think about.

Well, let's go on. What else made these guys great team members? Third is these three guys were men who put the welfare of the team ahead of self. Remember what Paul said about Timothy, Philippians 2, For I have no one else like him, a person who will genuinely look out for your interests, for everybody else looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. And you know, on any team, there are always situations that come up where the interests of the team and the interests of self begin to diverge.

That always happens. And friends, at that point, we have to make a decision. Whose interests are we going to put first? Are we going to put the interests of the team first?

Are we going to put the interests of self first? And what I love about these guys, Silas, Timothy, Luke, is that they made the choice to put the interests of the team first. These guys, everywhere they went with Paul, you never see them promoting themselves. You never see them wanting to be big shots. You never see them worried about advancing their own personal careers or expanding their own personal influence. The only passion they had was the welfare of the team.

Now, it takes a unique person to make those kind of decisions, and that's what made these guys such great team members. Any one of us here who's grown up with a godly, caring mother, we've seen this very attribute of being a great team member on display in spades right in our home. I mean, these are the ladies who'll stay up with you all night when you're sick, even though they have to be up at the crack of dawn to go to work. These are the ladies who give you the last $20 bill out of their wallet. These are the ladies who let you have the last piece of pie, even though we all know they really wanted it. They go, oh, no, I didn't really want it.

Well, you know they do, but they'll let you have it. These are the ladies who wear the same clothes year after year so that you can have new clothes to go to school with. These are the ladies who day after day after day put the needs of the team, the needs of the family ahead of their own wants, ahead of their own needs. This is what a great team member does. Friends, you want to be a great team member?

Just do what your mama did, and you're going to be a great team member. They put team ahead of self. That's what Silas, Timothy, and Luke did. That's what a great team member does. Finally, number four, what made these guys such great team members is that they were willing to make personal sacrifices to advance the mission of the team. You remember Silas got beat up with Paul up in Philippi, was willing to let himself be beat to a pulp and thrown in jail.

Now they're making some personal sacrifice. Timothy went with Paul his whole career. Every time we find Paul suffering, we find Timothy right alongside of him suffering along with him. Dr. Luke accompanied Paul even to his death in Rome. He was shipwrecked with him.

He spent two years caring for him in jail in Jerusalem, and then years in Rome caring for him in jail there. I mean these were men, all three of them, who exhibited the very same team attitude, and that is they were willing to make personal sacrifices in order to advance the mission of the team. That's a great team member. You know, I had a guy come in my office a couple weeks ago, and when you make an appointment with me, you know, you can come in and talk about anything. We can talk about the price of your stocks or what the NASDAQ's doing or your hobby.

I mean, I don't care. You got a half hour. You can talk about whatever you want to. So he came in to talk to me, and he sat down. He said, well, I just want to introduce myself, my wife, and I. We've been members of the church here for a while. And he said, we're moving to Europe. My job, I'm getting transferred to Europe. And I said, you know, that's wonderful.

We're going to miss you. He said, and so we had to decide what we were going to do with our house here in Northern Virginia. And he said, logic would dictate that we keep our house and rent our house so we stay in the Washington housing market.

And I said, yeah, you know, sounds reasonable to me. He said, but, he said, we made a $100,000 pledge to Building for Life. Now, friends, let me just tell you, I have no idea who's made pledges to Building for Life or how much they are.

I never see that material and don't ever plan to see it. So this was news to me. I'm like, oh, really? He said, I made a $100,000 pledge to Building for Life. He said, and my wife and I realized moving to Europe like this, we were never going to be able to fulfill that pledge by June of 2004. So he said, we began saying, how are we going to pay that?

And so here's what I did. He said, I want you to know we made the decision. We sold our house and we took $100,000 out of the proceeds of selling our house because it's the only way we could figure out to get the money. And here he hands me this check for $100,000 and says, we just figured we trust God and if we ever move back to Washington, Jesus will take care of us getting back in the housing market. Here's that $100,000 check.

They said, Lon, what are you really saying here? Are you saying you want all of us to go sell our house and give $100,000 to the building program? Well, honestly, that would help. I mean, it would. But no, no, no, I'm not saying that. No, no, no. I'm not saying that at all. What I'm saying is that I wish all 9,000 of us here at McLean Bible Church were the kind of team member that this guy is willing to make whatever personal sacrifices were necessary to advance the mission of the team, whether those were sacrifices in time or in energy or in service or in prayer or in money.

It doesn't matter. Now, let me just say there are lots of people on our team that are like that. There are lots of people on this team who do make incredible sacrifices to advance the mission of this church.

And I want you to know I wake up every morning and I say thank you, God, for the people who are like that here at this church. But my goal is to see all 9,000 of us become just like this. Can you imagine?

Think for a moment. The impact we could have on this city if we had 9,000 people who were these kind of team members. The Lord Jesus found 13 guys, including the Apostle Paul, who were like this, and they turned the world upside down. Can you imagine what 9,000 of us could do in this city? We ripped this city apart for Jesus Christ. That's my goal, is to see you and me become these kind of team members. And friends, let me just say in closing, if you're a follower of Jesus Christ, God didn't bring you to this church to be a consumer. God brought you here to be a contributor.

God brought you here to help us achieve our mission here in this city. And how do we do that? By being great team members. And how do we become great team members? Number one, by becoming people who are trustworthy.

You got my back, I got your back. Number two, by being people who are humble and have a servant's attitude. Hey, whatever it takes, whatever you need me to do, I'm willing to do it to get the job done in this town. Number three, to be a person who puts the welfare of the team ahead of self. Be like your mama here at McLean Bible Church.

And number four, to be a person that's willing to make personal sacrifices to see the mission of the team go forward. And I got to tell you, as I was working on the message this week, I stopped for a while and said, now God, am I this kind of person? I mean, am I as the leader of this church providing the kind of role model that people can look at me and see these four things in my life so they can copy them in my life? And I hope I am that way.

I'm sure trying to be that way. But friends, all I'm trying to do is copy Paul. And all Paul was trying to do was copy the Lord Jesus.

You remember he said in the Bible, imitate me as I imitate Jesus Christ. Well, I say to you, if I am being an effective role model, hey, imitate me and let's get this job done. And remember, the only way your children and your grandchildren are ever going to learn to be good team members is by watching you. And if they see it in you, they're going to grow up to be people like Silas and Timothy and Luke, godly team members. But friends, you got to model it. This isn't something you take a seminar for.

This is something you see in other people and you model it from them. And so there's a lot at stake here, not just the mission of McLean Bible Church, but your own children and how they live and their value system. It all depends on you and I being the kind of team members that God called us to be. Hey, I looked at my life and there's some areas I can improve. I hope you'll look at your life and say, Lord, there's some areas I can improve, but this is who we're going to be for Jesus Christ. Let's pray together. Father, thanks for talking to us today about being good team members. And 9,000 of us like this in this city, oh my gosh, what we could do.

It's almost beyond what we could even conceive. So, Lord, help us to examine our hearts and lives and help us if we're not everything that this list of four things says we should be. Then help us, Lord, my prayer is to say, God, with your help, I'm going to become that kind of person. Change our lives, change the very way we live because we were here today. And we ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-10 19:40:34 / 2023-06-10 19:52:11 / 12

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