During my years as a magazine editor, some of my favorite times involved getting our creative team together to plan the titles and graphic design for the next edition. Being a writer with a good sense for visual presentation, I would go into those sessions with my own ideas but would leave each meeting amazed at the results of our creative synergy. And when the issue was finally in print, there was no doubt that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.
A colleague of mine used to state it this way: “Not one of us is as smart as all of us.” Because we all have our strengths and areas of expertise. Individually we may be able to accomplish some good things; but put different people together who eagerly pool their respective abilities and you can move from good work to a pure masterpiece.
Consider a symphony orchestra: You have a collection of strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. And within each of those groups you have specialized instruments. For instance, in the percussion section you might have snare drums, bass drums, tympani drums, cymbals, bells and gongs. Each is designed to produce distinctive sounds that, when played in literal concert with all the other instruments, can result in a wondrous piece of music.
The same is true in the world of sports, athletes of different sizes and skills, all with distinct responsibilities in a collective pursuit of victory – an outcome that would be impossible if one or more of the team’s members failed to carry out their assignments.
We can see this every day in the business and professional world, companies excelling when the right people are put in the right places to carry out the right responsibilities. Failure to utilize unique capabilities by aligning them together for maximum performance can lead to business failures, even bankruptcy. I like what the Bible teaches about people working together in harmony and toward common goals:
Working together brings added strength. It has been observed that one workhorse can pull a certain weight, but two working together often can pull multiple times that weight. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the main who falls and has no one to help him up!… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
Working together hones our skills. We all can stand improvement, and as we work together, we can help one another to recognize blind-spots, identify weaknesses, and complement each other’s strengths. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
Working together provides needed support. Challenges and adversity can discourage, even dishearten even the most determined individuals. As we work together, we can provide mutual encouragement and support. “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” (Hebrews 3:13). “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25)
© 2022. Robert J. Tamasy has written Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Pursuing Life with a Shepherd’s Heart, coauthored with Ken Johnson; and The Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.
1. Have you ever worked on a project with a group and experienced an outcome that far exceeded anything you would have imagined you all could have achieved together? If so, what was that like? How did it feel?
2. How do you understand the statement, “Not one of us is as smart as all of us”? Drawing from what you have encountered in a workplace setting, do you think this principle receives strong emphasis? Why or why not?
3. What are some of the drawbacks of insisting on working independently, even if a person is extremely gifted and highly skilled at what he or she does?
4. Do you have anyone that serves in a capacity that might be described as “iron sharpening iron” for you? If so, describe what that is like. What do you think are problems that can result if we do not have a working relationship in which we can sharpen one another?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Numbers 11:10-17; Ecclesiastes 4:8; Mark 6:7; Luke 9:1-6, 10:1-2