Question: "What does the Bible say about teamwork?"
Answer: While the word teamwork does not appear in the Bible, the Word of God does contain a lot of information about working together. Teamwork is evident in the societal structures of marriage, family, community, and business. Advice for daily living, conflict management, and related issues is available in Scripture; you just have to know where to look and how to apply the Bible’s principles of teamwork to today’s business or ministry model.
The most foundational team is the one created when someone accepts Christ as Lord and Savior. From that very instant, the newborn child of God is never alone (Hebrews 13:5). The believer has the advantage of being part of his own “God team,” with the benefits of the guidance of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27), the priestly provisions of Jesus (Hebrews10:19–22), and the eternal love of a faithful Father (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13).
We are designed to need God and each other. No one has all the skills, gifts, or wisdom necessary for a successful life. We are exhorted to use the gifts we receive—the talents and unique bents of our created nature, as well as our spiritual gifts—to serve one another with kindness, respect, and appreciation.
The first examples of teamwork found in the Bible are in the opening chapter of Genesis. There we find the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, working in concert at creation (Genesis 1:1–3). Each member of the Godhead had a position to fill in the creation of the world; each One had a defined job to perform.
On the sixth day of creation, God fashioned Adam and Eve, the first human team. They were designed to complement each other and mirror the image and the community—the teamwork—of the Trinity (Genesis 1:26–27).
Ephesians 4:12 refers to the church—the community of believers—as the “body of Christ.” The church is to work as a team. First Corinthians 12:17–31 unpacks the idea of the church as a body in greater depth, using the systems of the human body as an analogy for the way team members need to rely on each other. Strong teams, just like strong bodies, are made up of interdependent members fulfilling defined tasks.
There is no jealousy in teamwork. When the whole team is working for the glory of God, there is no internal competition: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6). The unified team understands that reaching goals is God’s doing. And what God is doing requires teamwork on our part: “The sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor” (John 4:36–38).
Jesus’ twelve-man team was marked by its diversity (Mark 3:13–18; Luke 6:12–16). One was a tax collector, several were fishermen, one was politically active and known as “the Zealot.” The Gospels recount three and a half years of intense training as the disciples spent time at Jesus’ side as He taught and ministered to people. At the midpoint of their mentorship, Jesus sent the twelve out in two-man teams (Mark 6:7–13). They were given authority, direction, and opportunity. Jesus followed up with review, correction, and rest (Mark 6:30–31).
Moses, leader of the Israelites and author of the first five books of the Bible, led more than a million people through a nomadic existence that lasted forty years. His earliest teammate was Aaron, his brother (Exodus 6:26—7:20). Later, on the advice of his father-in-law, he added leaders for teams of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens (Exodus 24).
What is known as the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17), given by God through Moses, contain some of the best advice for teamwork ever written. Put into a business framework, it could read something like this:
God is first. He leads, we listen and obey.
Nothing should get in the way of our devotion to Him.
We can’t use God and His name as an excuse, a threat, or a swear word.
We take a day off for rest and restoration.
Our parents [managers and mentors] have priority in our lives to direct our thinking and behavior. We honor them.
We shouldn’t commit character assassination (or any other kind of assassination).
We shouldn’t commit spiritual, emotional, or physical adultery. We put boundaries around our work relationships and teams.
We shouldn’t steal from one another—not ideas, credit, or personal belongings. Not even a co-worker’s coffee cup from the office kitchen.
We shouldn’t tell lies about each other or use subtle negative comments to rob others of their status or influence.
We shouldn’t covet a team member’s life, wife, position, or stuff.
Christian teamwork acknowledges God as the established leader and objective third party in every team, adding strength and cohesion to the bond. Having basic relational boundaries in place helps teams focus on the job at hand. With love for God and love for one another, unity is possible (Ephesians 4:13). It helps to be humble and “consider others better than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 speaks of the value of teamwork: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
It doesn’t get any better than that.