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When I used to do job interviews, one of the questions I often asked candidates was, “Are you a team player?” Most of the time the applicant would say, “Yes, I am.”
I would usually follow up that question by asking them to describe how they work with others. Sometimes I would get answers that let me know they had no clue what it meant to be a team player.
Did you know that God expects us to be team players? He does, and He specifically wants us on His team. Over and over in both the New Testament and the Old Testament, we find examples of those that rebelled against God and partnered with the devil. None of those individuals found favor with God.
There is a particular instance in scripture that shows specifically how God wanted His people to be team players. I’d like us to look at this story and imagine how differently things could have been had the people not been team players.
We find the story in Joshua 1. Moses had died, and God had chosen Joshua as the new leader of His people. Joshua had proven himself as a leader and as a follower of God. God was ready for the Israelites to travel over the Jordan River and take the land He had promised them.
The tribes had been determined, named for the sons of Jacob, and two of them named for the sons of Joseph. There were Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulon, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin.
When God told Joshua He was ready to begin the conquering of the land, He gave some specific instructions. He told Joshua what he, as leader of the Israelites, should do. He said in Joshua 1:
• “Be strong and of a good courage” (verse 6).
• “Observe to do according to all the law” (verse 6).
• “Turn not from it (the law) to the right hand or to the left” (verse 7).
• “Meditate day and night” (verse 7).
• “Be not afraid” (verse 9).
• “Neither be dismayed” (verse 9).
God was building Joshua up for the battle, but He was also promising Joshua complete support and a promise of a victory. This land was finally going to be theirs, the land God had promised Abraham.
Now comes the part where they must be team players! Joshua told the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh that God had given them the land on the side of Jordan where they were currently standing. They weren’t going to have to do anything for the land allocated to them (Numbers 32:33); however, look at what Joshua tells them they must do.
“Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land’. Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; Until the Lord have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the Lord your God giveth thee: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising” (Joshua 1:13-15).
I wonder if these men had been thinking that they would not have to go into battle. If so, they had a big surprise when Joshua gave them the news that they would need to prepare themselves for battle and help their neighbors fight for their land.
This was truly a lesson in being a team player. Even though they didn’t have to fight for their own land, their men of valor were needed to defeat the enemy.
God, of course, could have done this without their help; but there is a lesson here. This was a lesson in obedience and cooperation. They needed to help one another. They needed to be responsible for one another. Without the cooperation, these people might have once again lost a chance to enter the Promised Land.
We see this same idea when Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Two men, Sanballat and Tobiah, tried to prevent the building of the wall. They did everything they could to discourage the people, but scripture tells us it didn’t work. Nehemiah said, “So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6). The people came together to work, to get the wall built so they would be protected.
Think how much more we can accomplish when we work together, supporting one another and encouraging one another. That’s being team players!