The Satisfaction of Team Wins

A scene from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on Aug. 5 at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, IMCOM Public Affairs

If you have paid any attention to the Olympics, you may have heard an idea the gist of which is common in the world of sports: team wins are better than individual wins.

I heard it this week from golfer Matt Kuchar, who won the bronze medal for the U.S., and from Japanese mens gymnast Kohei Uchimura, whose team won the gold medal.

Kuchar, the golfer, said, “I’ve never been so excited to finish top three in my life. The pride is busting out of my chest.” He said he had won various PGA tournaments, and that is very satisfying, but those victories could not compare to winning for your country.

On the same note, prior to the 2016 Olympics, gymnast Kohei Uchimura had won multiple gold medals in all-around and individual events, both in the Olympics and in the annual world championships, but his team had never won a championship. He is regarded as the best male gymnast of all time, but what he wanted more than another individual honor was a team championship. This year he got it.

Why do athletes get the greatest satisfaction from team championships over individual success? Because God created us to live in community. He wired us for society. We were not created to live for ourselves, but for others. We were created to do things together.

That is one reason why every Christian needs to be involved fully in the church. We were designed by God to find deep joy in the victorious life of Christ’s church, even more than in our own well-being. God designed us to find deep satisfaction in serving the church, praying with and for the church, giving and receiving love.

When someone is down on the church, it is because that deep desire has been disappointed, sometimes by rejection experienced at church, or by the sinfulness of others including leaders in the church, or by one’s own brokenness in relating to others, or by lingering wrong attitudes absorbed from our anti-church world.

But we must press through those negative things and get over them by God’s help. The price of avoiding church is too high. You will not find greater joy in this life than you will find in deep involvement in a church where God is present and working. If the latter is not happening, then your great joy will come from the challenge of praying and working with all patience to bring it about.

If you are part of the team, you will be happier when your church wins than when you win.

—Craig Brian Larson (2016)