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Murder By Mouth

When we gossip or slander, we kill at least three people.  We kill ourselves, we kill the person who listened to us and we kill the person about whom we spoke. Naturally, if we speak to more than one listener, or about more than one person, we will inflict greater...

Group or Team? The Deadly Cost of Leadership Disunity

Team unity does not require that everyone agree on everything – but it does require that team members agree on the most fundamental, essential issues, including the way the team will function, who does what, and how it gets done. Fudge on these matters and your team will pay dearly. But that’s not all. Fudge on these matters and everyone who looks to the team for leadership will suffer huge losses, too. Some are immediately noticeable and others are noticeable over time. It’s not a matter of if, but of when and how.
No matter what, there is an undeniable, hellish price that must always be paid whenever a team does not have real, genuine unity among the leaders. Sooner or later, the deadly cost of leadership disunity will be felt. 

The idea of “team” is talked about extensively in churches, the business world, schools and nearly any place where groups of people interact and are expected to make gains. Healthy team-building, however, is not as easy as simply putting people in the same room and saying “go!” It’s one thing to have a group of people collaborating together, but quite another to have a genuine team.

“A TEAM, unlike a mere group, is organized, unified, focused and 100% committed to the  fulfillment of their shared vision and mission.”

There are significant differences between groups and teams. Groups are simply . . . groups. They are a collection of people who may or may not have a common vision, goals, strategy or chain of command. In other words, a group is simply two or more people with mere potential. But in order to be a team, they must possess far more than close geographic proximity to one another.

A team, unlike a mere group, is organized, unified, focused and 100% committed to the  fulfillment of their shared vision and mission. Until a group has these components, they are not a team. And, until a group becomes a team, the chances that they will experience frustration, splinter apart, fizzle out and fade away are not merely possible but entirely probable.

To understand the serious repercussions of mistaking groups for teams, simply look at any divorced family. Whatever “unity” they did have was disemboweled by a lack of shared vision, mission, values and methods of operating. Couples (and families) that share a strong commitment to the same vision, mission, values and manners of conduct stay together. Those that don’t show signs of wear and eventually crumble. The greater the unity, the greater the odds are that the couple – and their entire family unit – will remain together.

Why am I talking about couples and families when I began by talking about churches, businesses and schools? Because couples and families are groups that have potential to operate as real teams. Healthy couples and families teach us the fundamental ingredients every team needs.

Does your team have a clear and compelling vision and mission? Does it have common values and goals? Does it have clearly defined roles for each of the players? If it doesn’t have these things, your “team” is not really a team. It’s simply a group

Is your group living in denial, masquerading as a team? Groups don’t accomplish very much, other than giving their members a sense of affinity and belonging. While these things are not bad, they will never create influence, change and momentum. Only a team can create such things. 

In order to succeed – and to sustain success – a group must become a team. And, they must work hard to maintain teamwork. Once a team, not always a team. The second law of thermodynamics applies to teamwork: things left to themselves fall apart. They do not fix themselves. If you work hard to develop a team, you must work hard to maintain that team. 

The danger of any team is that left unattended it will degenerate into a mere group. Remember, groups do not create momentum. They do not inspire to the point of initiating and sustaining change. It is only through focused determination and unwavering commitment to a common and compelling vision and mission with shared values and goals, that a group becomes a team, the team remains unified and the unity results in lasting impact.

What about your group? Is it a team? If not, why not? What can you do to help create teamwork in you family, church, place of business, school or neighborhood? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Murder By Mouth

When we gossip or slander, we kill at least three people.  We kill ourselves, we kill the person who listened to us and we kill the person about whom we spoke. Naturally, if we speak to more than one listener, or about more than one person, we will inflict greater damage. We’ve all done it at one time or another. That doesn’t make it right. That makes it alarming. The most dangerous weapon you will ever possess isn’t one you can go out and purchase. Nor is it one for which you need a conceal/carry permit. It was given you to in your mother’s womb, before you even knew how to wield it. I’m talking about your tongue. 
What is “gossip”? The Greek word in the New Testament that is translated into the English word “gossip” means “whisperings” or “tale-bearings.” It is to speak in ways where the speaker does not want to be easily identified because of the inappropriate, less than honorable subject matter and/or manner in which it is shared. When we “whisper,” we don’t want others to hear what we have to say – especially the person about whom we are speaking. A gossip “whispers” in order to protect their own identity while damaging that of another. It’s classically hypocritical, which should wake us up. In Matthew 24:42-51, Jesus speaks with great force against the sin of hypocrisy:

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

“For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?

“Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.

“Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

“But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (ESV)

Slander is gossip on steroids. One of the Greek New Testament words translated into “slander” means “to defame,” and “to injure the reputation.” A slanderer is not merely sharing information, but sharing it in such a way as to destroy another person or people. Like gossip, slander often takes place in secrecy, with the slanderer taking great measures to ensure their own protection. Again, it is hypocrisy in classic form.

The Greek word in the famous Matthew 4 account of Jesus’ wilderness temptations is translated into the English word “devil.” Amazingly, it is the same root word used for the word “slander” and “slanderous” found in other parts of the Bible, like 2 Timothy 3:3, where people in the last of the Last Days are said to be “slanderous.”

Gossip and slander are forms of verbal suicide. When we engage in gossip or slander – or tolerate it when practiced in our presence (which is to be a “listener”), we hold the devil’s hand and speak his language. Enough is enough. It’s time we begin to be a catalyst for healthy conversations, and fulfill the greatest of all commandments, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5), and to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). This teaching is just as relevant as it was in Old Testament times, or in the day when Jesus referenced both of these commands and said they were inseparable (Mark 12:28-34). When we gossip or slander, or tolerate those who do, we condone verbal suicide and collateral murder. Murder by mouth is a serious sin. It’s time we get serious about loving God and loving our neighbors.

Do you gossip or slander? Do you tolerate people doing it in your presence? Why? When you do, you are neither loving God nor your neighbors. 

Listen to the companion podcast, Murder by Mouth, with iTunes, on Godfactor.com, or the free Godfactor App, available in your app store. If you live near York, Pennsylvania, come visit us at GraceYork.com. We’d love to have you enjoy God with us.

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