Typical of Paul’s theology, true faith is upward, inward and outward focused. God’s richest blessings to us in Christ, which he passionately articulated from Ephesians 1 to 3, are never just about our well being only. We are blessed in order to be a blessing to others. We see this shift at the start of chapter 4 as Paul moves from the theological to practice.
How are we to be a blessing to one another? Paul writes, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (4:2).
In 2012, Google launched ‘Project Aristotle’ to discover what builds a strong team. It took several years to complete involving gathering data from 180 teams from all over the company.
The conclusion from Google’s intense data collection was clear: in the best teams, members display empathy and most importantly, they listen to one another.
A mid-level manager from Google was eager to put this finding to the test. He took his team off site to share with them about his cancer. After some initial silence, his colleagues began sharing their own personal stories of struggle.
At the heart of Google’s findings, which the company now describes as the key to building a successful team, is the concept of ‘psychological safety’. When psychological safety is present in a team environment, members feel safe for interpersonal risk-taking because there is mutual respect for one another’s viewpoints, thoughts and emotions.
In other words, the key to good teamwork has less to do with the composition of the team members in terms of their personality types, skills or backgrounds and more with how they interacted with each other!
This echoes Paul’s thoughts exactly. Irrespective of who we are, there are no excuses for approaching one another except with complete humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one anther with love! This is how we are to be a blessing to one another.
All of us have been deeply touched by people who display these attitudes to us. We are full of admiration and respect for them. The challenge for us is not to be just beneficiaries but benefactors of such attitudes. Do not say, “Well, good for them but I’m not the humble, gentle and patient type! That’s not who I am”. You’re absolutely right. It’s not who we are but IT IS who Jesus is and we are called to follow him!
“God, please give us opportunities to be humble, gentle and patient this week in our frontlines through your Spirit’s power working in our lives”. Have a fruitful week!