What inspires cyclists to race thousands of kilometers in the Tour de France? Many of them don’t even reach the finish line—their role is simply to help their team’s strongest cyclist win a stage, and earn the coveted yellow jersey. Success is measured by how well they contribute their unique assets for the good of the team. Where does your support come from? Who comes to your aid when stuck in an uphill grind? And what do you do to lift others up?
People often ask me what attracts me to the challenging sport of triathlon. It is the community. I love it when God puts people in my path to encourage me, as it gives me a deep sense of His presence and care for me. I still don’t know how cyclists seem to randomly appear on the road, recognize me and call out a greeting just when I need a pick-me-up. Whatever you may face in life, I hope you can find people to come alongside you. Because we cannot always manage alone. We are meant to be in community.
Finding your Superpower
Team players have been around since biblical times. In the New Testament scriptures, the apostle Paul was also a great team leader in the early church. He recognized that every part of the body was equally important in terms of spreading the gospel. And he saw how the weak were strengthened by a the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit. While growing up in the church, I never learned very much about this part of the Trinity. But it is this higher power that I turn to when needing strength in a painful stretch of life or in a grueling race.
Too often we try to be stubbornly independent and only turn to others, or God, in desperation. If you are like me, you may find it hard to ask for help. When I became temporarily debilitated, I was often too proud to ask others for assistance with even simple requests like opening a door. And people were equally unsure about whether to offer aid. We are stronger together, which is why we join teams.
Harmony in Teamwork
The human body, too, is most powerful when working in harmony. I learned this while through working through various muscle imbalances, and when I rehabbed a frozen shoulder. Did you know that for the shoulder to function smoothly, eighteen muscles must work in synchronized fashion? Each time our muscles contract and strengthen, muscles on the opposing joint must first relax. When we get out of balance, we become less efficient and use more energy to complete tasks.
Relationships are like that too. In order for community to work best, individual members need to put their own inclinations aside to help others perform. While it takes humility, we need to acknowledge limitations and recruit others for support. Or we can choose to be that person to take a back seat so that others can shine. Then the weak become stronger and the last become first.
Often we fall into a super achiever mentality—sprinting through life taking on mountainous tasks, instead of finding value in the little things we can do to lift others up. Or we waste energy lamenting the strengths we lack instead of celebrating the skills we possess. Worse, we compare ourselves to others. If we chase the goals that society equates with success, we should first question whether we offer ourselves the grace that people give to us.
Not everyone will cross the finish line, reach the medal podium, or launch a winning start-up. Most of us will never make the spotlight, but we can each do our part for this world by spreading love and hope. A word of encouragement or an act of service can go a long way! Let’s not sit on the sidelines like armchair athletes. We can all take on the tasks that we can have been called to, and find reward in cheering others on.