Last week the 2017 NRL Grand Final was won by the Melbourne Storm. As far as grand finals go, Melbourne dominated. They’d been the strongest team all year. Some would argue that they are the greatest club team to ever play the game. They played a near perfect season and deserved the win.
I love watching grand finals. The stakes are at their highest - a whole years preparation, and a lifetime of training and hard work, for a moment of glory. As I watched the end of the game, I saw the players overcome with emotion as they celebrated during post match interviews. They paid testament to each other, their families, coaches, staff and administrators - everyone who had worked hard and sacrificed, to make the team successful. As they were interviewed they often struggled to put words to the strength of the bonds they had made, but the outpouring of emotion speaks for itself. They pursued a goal to win the comp, and together they accomplished it.
These images resonate so deeply with me, because I know what it feels like to be part of a team. I know what it feels like to make the sacrifices and put in the hard work to achieve a win. I know what it looks like to look at a group of people and know that together we are trying to achieve something great.
My teams never ran out onto the sports field (unless it was for a Looney Olympics or perhaps a game of crab soccer). They were teams of ministry and mission, our goal to build the church and to win people for Christ. We may not have played in great stadiums, hearing the cheers of the crowd, but all of Heaven celebrated with us when we lived out our God given mission.
All of the most significant relationships in my life began as part of these teams - serving together to achieve something great. Our friendships bonded us together as we experienced victory and defeat. These are people I know I can trust - because we’ve faced hardship side by side.
If I’m being really honest right now (3 months after stepping out of ministry) I miss my team. I miss meeting together on a Friday night, a Wednesday morning or a Sunday afternoon, to pray together and to serve together.
After the big win, the Storm gathered for their team photo and something truly remarkable happened. After the first few photos were taken of the team, the group began to grow as coaches, staff, wives, kids, parents and friends joined. What began as 17 players quickly grew to a group of maybe 100 people. I remembered again that great teams are really great communities. Everyone in the picture had contributed to the win.
People who have a shared purpose and a clearly defined understanding of what they are trying to achieve, these are the people that build the greatest communities. To quote the cast of High School musical “we’re all in this together” and the win is so much greater than a grand final win. The win is a relationship with God, to be His loved children and part of His Heavenly kingdom. It’s an eternal victory. Helping people discover God and His love for them.
Tonight as I watched the victory lap I got excited, because I know we’re at the start of something special. Right now our team is only small and there is a lot of hard work and sacrifice in front of us. But I know that a great team that started as the 4 members of our family, will grow into a great community that will see great victories.