Team spirit

HOW true for Ben to say that to win in Europe we need to play as a team, not as individuals (FT 17/4).

The present sevens rugby team members had been specifically selected as being the best of the best, physically and mentally, – the ‘X’ Factor that makes up the team. Its the ‘team spirit’ that made it successful.

The not so well known factor is the “Yalo Tabu,” – the holy spirit, the source of Semi Kunatani’s success. It is the Holy Spirit that makes everything possible for him. We all need to grab hold of this too.

Ben Ryan’s recent inspiring speech at the 2014 Sports Award emphasised the need for each member to have the “can do” attitude. He could have said the “can do spirit” as well, for the “spirit” is the intangible factor that comes into play after we have thrown in everything we can humanly do ourselves.

While I am no expert on rugby, nor on the psychology of the synergy apparent when we humans work together for a common purpose, I have seen this at work, at church, at play and in our daily living: everything flows smoothly; there is no thought for self but for the success of the group.

At work we once had a programme called “continuous quality improvement”. While its name ostensibly was on “quality’ and improving processes, its main strength was on employees working together to achieve a goal, without interference from their supervisors, where traditionally they being “bosses” considered that “they knew better”. Here the team members worked on their objectives, to the point of even quantifying any efficiency or monetary gains. We were told that at one organisation, a gold mine, the miners came up with production figures higher than what management had demanded! There was excitement in the groups where even the workers union wholeheartedly supported the project!

When people are of one mind working together, “cakacaka vata” especially in the religious or church sense” the Holy Spirit is in much evidence. God’s spirit seemed to pervade the whole group. After “marriage encounter” was introduced into our church parish one year to “make good marriages better” and where I had my first spiritual experience, there was such a remarkable transformation in the parish. The church became alive with the unity of the spirit. (See my book ‘Catching the Wind, a Search for God.’)

In the NIV Bible, 1 Corinthians 12 v12 -29 talks about church members being the many parts of Jesus’ body, i.e. many parts but one body. In verse 12 it says “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts…’ In verse 21: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you … ‘ Verse 25 says: “So that there should be no division but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” So each member of the team must play his part.

I enjoy church worship, when the music team play with complete harmony and the singers sing with intense devotion that the Hoy Spirit’s presence could be felt physically. It was at times such as these that “signs and wonders” began to take place.

Similarly in sports, as in sevens rugby, one can sense the magic of the spirit’s flow (whether it is the team spirit or Holy Spirit) as the ball is passed rapidly from one player to the other despite the opponent’s efforts to halt this marvellous interchange. What magic was in these impromptu choreographies! Even the commentators said that you can’t stop the Fijians when they are on the roll!

But there were other forces that would attempt to destroy this spirit. From time to time I noticed to the detriment of the team, individual play seemed to surface and caused us to lose the ball as well. Anger envy or mild jealousy is aroused from the other team members. Any dissension, negatives or Ill- temperedness, can quickly quench the workings of the Holy Spirit.

God prefers to make something out of nothing. It is when we empty ourselves, be humble and become nothing that God can use us. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13. As with anything we do with our God given talents, even in sport, we do it not for ourselves but for the glory of God, so out with the individual play, out with ill-discipline and play like the Christian ambassadors that you are!

We look forward to your action at the remaining segments of the HSBC 7s in Europe.

Go Fiji go!

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