Jan 2019

Blessed New Year! May 2019 bring you much hope and fresh encounters with our Lord through His Word!

This year, I’ve been thinking lots about teamwork and leadership. My health took a beating on the second half of 2018, with my blood pressure shooting dangerously high. The reason for my hypertension is that I have several roles and responsibilities apart from teaching a full load in SOTE. Doctors and those close to me warned me to cut down my workload and rest. But there’s so much to do… and so little time! Does that sound like you too? This is where  Hollywood movies taught me about teamwork and leadership.

Lately, Hollywood has been churning out many superhero movies. Here’s the question: What does Captain America (Marvel’s The Avengers series), Professor Xavier (X-Men series), Batman (DC Comic’s Justice League), The Green Hornet, Sherlock Holmes and Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible) have in common?

They all have side-kicks! They all have a team!

Batman has his Robin, The Green Hornet has his Kato, and Sherlock Holmes has his Dr. Watson. Captain America, Professor Xavier and Ethan Hunt all have their team.

No true leader is a one-man-show. He needs his side-kick or team to achieve his goals. He learns to work alongside others of different abilities and make the best out of them. What is teamwork? If we take the example of the heroes above, we may conclude that teamwork is not just the ability to work together with all parties smiling at the end of the day. These superheroes even fought one another! Neither is it some kind of romanticized “feel-good, campfire get together” and singing Kumbaya. Or have a group of people come together for some outdoor team-building games. Winston Churchill once said, “If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary!”

The goal is not to have a team, but to enable the team to work. Wearing the same shirt does not make the team work. Ingredients for successful teamwork includes trust and support, common clear goals and directions, skill sets and resources for the task, willingness to share information and life, recognizing conflicts and ability to work around them, and taking responsibility individually but sharing success with others.

The Chinese word for collaboration (i.e. teamwork) is 合作 (he zuo). The first-word 合 (he) comes before the second 作 (zuo). 合 means to fit, agree, and join. 作 means to do something, usually a task. Interestingly, it is important to fit and agree before a task gets done. The Chinese word for teamwork makes lots of sense.

The Bible is filled with examples of teamwork. One recalls Jethro’s advice to Moses to share out the task of leading God’s people in Exodus 18:1-27. We read in verses 24-26

“Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, the fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.”

Moses heeded his in-law’s advice. He didn’t go on his own. Otherwise, you can see a burn-out leader and very grumpy followers.

Another excellent example of teamwork in action is the New Testament church in Acts 6:1-7 when the Apostles’ work became over-bearing, and some widows’ needs were overlooked. They assigned seven reliable, well-tested and full of the Spirit men to help these Apostle while they concentrate on the important task of teaching the Word of God.

I thank the Lord for giving me a fantastic, humble and capable team to make SBConnect possible. Each newsletter you receive every month is the labour of love from the Strategic Development Domain (SDD). Jen Ng does the formatting and mailing while Chang Loong and Andrew work on the videos, publicity and media stuff. And did I mention a team of dedicated translators who work quietly behind the scenes so that our Chinese SBConnect gets to you?

How about you today? How’s your blood pressure? If it’s as high as mine, perhaps we need to ask if we are trying too hard to be solo fighters rather than team builders. If you are a leader, how would your people describe your leadership? Are alternative voices heard and listened to? Do people want to join you or jump out of the boat?

May 2019 begins with us learning to serve and lead in our team. May the Lord provide resources for you to accomplish what He wants of you.

Grace and peace