An organization functions best when each person correctly accesses his/her gifts, then deploys those gifts as a part of a team effort. Organizations get into trouble when individuals try to function independently rather than collectively as a team.A good model to follow is I Corinthians 12. Paul describes the Church as the human body. My body has different parts, such as feet, hands, ears, and eyes. My body does not function well if my eyes try to hear or my ears try to see. There is also dysfunction when one part of my body starts claiming that it is more important than another part. Each part is extremely important and essential for my body to function as a coordinated unit.
There is a beautiful example of this reported in China. A couple of eco-warriors in China are redefining what it means to work together. Jia Haixa is blind, and Jia Wenqi is a double amputee who lost both his arms at age 3. They both found it very difficult to find a job.
In 2001, they decided to engage this basic principle. They began working together planting trees along the riverbank in their hometown of Hebei. Despite the fact that neither one of them could do the work by himself, they discovered that together they could accomplish amazing things. They saw their respective situations not as disabilities but as possibilities if they worked together. The 53-year-olds have now managed to plant 10,000 trees over the last 10 years!
Today they are making a modest living which is helpful to their families but is also helping to protect their village from dangerous floods. Haixa says, “I am his hands. He is my eyes. We are good partners.” It is amazing what can happen when each person contributes his best gift to the work of the entire team.
There is a story about a captain of a ship and the chief engineer who one day began arguing about which was more important to the ship. To settle the argument, they decided to swap jobs for a few hours. The chief engineer went up to the bridge and the captain went into the engine room.
About an hour later the captain appeared on the bridge. He was covered with oil and soot and wildly waving a monkey wrench. He said, “I can’t make her go.” The chief quickly said, “Of course you can’t, we have run aground.”
An important aspect is the capability to both give and receive the help we need. It was reported that Apple chief executive Tim Cook revealed he once offered a dying Steve Jobs part of his own liver. Jobs’ response was, “I’ll never let you do that.” He refused the help. Cook said that he worked with Jobs for 13 years and was never yelled at but four or five times, but this was one of them. I wonder what could have been if Steve Jobs had received Tim Cook’s offer.
Working together is the “together” that makes for success. Sir Thomas Beecham, the eminent conductor of the London Symphony, was once the guest conductor in another venue and was frustrated with the seemingly undisciplined group of musicians. During the rehearsal, the concert master asked Mr. Beecham how he wanted a particular section played. After a long pause, and with great emphasis, he replied, “Together!”
We may not have it all together, but together we can have it all!