One of the classic “coach speeches” that I remember from my youth included some version of the phrase “There is no “I” in TEAM.” It took us until about 7th grade to realize that although T-E-A-M lacks an “I,” it has a “ME.” I know our coaches appreciated this observation.
What’s at the heart of this speech that anyone who played a team sport growing up received? What that Little League or AAU or Pop Warner coach was trying to do, in spite of our 7th grade wit, was move us from “ME to WE.” He was trying to reveal to us the power of unity.
Unity is impossible to gain until you go from ME to WE. If you’re stuck on ME you’ll never experience unity. You know why? Because the last thing ME wants is unity. ME shuns humility, submission, grace, understanding, and harmony in favor of pride, self-seeking, self-preservation, and dominance. ME wants prestige. ME wants glory. ME wants credit. ME wants security.
Until ME forgets about ME, WE will be as elusive as Barry Sanders in 1997. WE has no shot until ME gets over itself. It’s when ME becomes WE that you find unity.
What’s so important about unity? Well, it depends on your context.
In your family: If ME trumps WE your marriage, your parenting, your relationships with every other member becomes about YOU instead of about US. Have you ever experienced that? If so, you understand the importance of unity.
In your job: If ME dominates WE you’ll look out for yourself at the expense of others and the good of the company. If you’ve ever worked with someone like that, especially if you’ve been in management, you realize how destructive ME can be.
In the church: This is a place where ME seems to kill WE more times than we’d like to admit. This is why best-selling authors begin their books with phrases like “It’s not about you!” This is why Paul said what he did in Romans 12:
Romans 12:3-5 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
The body of Christ comes into unity when ME becomes WE. Why does Paul hammer pride at the outset of one of the most unity-building chapters in the New Testament? Because when ME becomes WE you get unity.