Written by Kevin P. Gilmore
From the Director
I enjoy reading books on leadership. One of my favorite authors is Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of a management consulting firm specializing in executive team development and organizational health. He is particularly known for bestsellers written as fables to emphasize key points, often about teamwork.
I read these types of secular works with a bent towards how they apply to the life of a Christian. In 2016, Lencioni published The Ideal Team Player, How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues. He urges leaders to be “humble, hungry, and smart,” as they seek to get the right people on the bus. Lencioni considers these virtues indispensable to the success of any organization, and I believe they apply to us as Christians in our various roles, whether its work, church, community or family. When I hear the author talk about a “team player,” I easily substitute the words “community member,” and try to apply the principle to the settings I find myself in.
“Humility,” writes Lencioni, “is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player. Great team players lack excessive ego or concerns about status. They are quick to point out the contributions of others and slow to seek attention for their own. They share credit, emphasize team over self, and define success collectively rather than individually.” I see how all of these traits translate seamlessly to the Christian lifestyle with the necessary addition of giving all the credit to God. The author also quotes C.S. Lewis who said, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
Lencioni writes, “Hungry people almost never have to be pushed by a manager to work harder, because they are self-motivated and diligent. Hunger is about a manageable and sustainable commitment to doing a job well and going above and beyond when it is truly required.” As a Christian, do people think of us as someone who goes above and beyond when it's required? How about even when it is not? Remember, the saying about going the extra mile actually comes from Matthew 5:41.
Being smart is not about intellectual capacity, but rather “people smarts.” Lencioni writes, “Smart simply refers to a person’s common sense about people. It has everything to do with the ability to be interpersonally appropriate and aware.” I think we all can relate to knowing people, some very intelligent, who seem to be clueless when it comes to their awareness of others. Lencioni goes on to write, “Smart people have good judgment and intuition around the subtleties of group dynamics and the impact of their words and actions.” I recently heard a sermon where the pastor said, once we know the right thing to do, it is equally if not more important to know how to implement it appropriately.
Lencioni is the first to recognize that there is nothing novel about these three attributes, but he claims they are made powerful when collectively exercised by an individual. If any one is missing, then that person’s impact as a team player (or community member) is lessened.
Do we recognize these virtues in our own life? It could be one of them needs a little “shoring up.” As Nazarenes, we are part of a community of faith with brothers and sisters who can help us with this, and, more importantly, we serve a God who equips and cares deeply about us.
From a faith perspective, imagine the impact a church full of humble, hungry, and smart believers can have on their community. It’s achievable, if we will daily tap into the inspiration and leadership of the Holy Spirit and live by the promise of James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (NIV).
Kevin P. Gilmore is director of Pensions and Benefits USA for the Church of the Nazarene.
Lencioni, P. (2016). The Ideal Team Player. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,