Selfishness and bad attitude
There are few more difficult members to have in a team than those who have their own hidden agendas. The selfish footballer who wants to score the goal when he should have passed the ball, or the cricket batsman who is more interested in his seasonal average than the welfare of the team, are each nightmares to the captain. Indeed, it is sometimes necessary to change the team selection to remove such a person.
In Christian circles, too, that attitude can sometimes be present. The flesh in some people seeks after ‘glory’ and ‘profile’. Such people are not good team players.
Bad attitude represents a powerful force for destruction and Paul addresses the subject head on in Phil 2:3-8. He shows how Jesus’ attitude was exemplary and was a model for us. It is interesting to note, however, that, with the correct attitude, the Father is pleased with him and Jesus rightly gets the glory and profile in vv 9, 10 without seeking it. But I am running ahead of myself.
No selfishness or empty conceit
Selfishness opposes the ethos of team. As we have seen, a successful team is a group of people who work together to achieve a common aim. Any individual member who is ‘in it for his own good’ will be inconsiderate of the welfare of others and of the team as a whole. Competitiveness and selfishness tend to lead to disloyalty as they put self-interest and self-opinion above the activity and ethos of the team. For the team leader such attitudes among members build insecurity that the team will not truly represent him and his values.
Empty conceit is also an undermining characteristic. It implies that one individual sees himself as in some way superior to the other team members; that he can carry out a task better than others; that all good ideas have started with him. This, too, erodes a positive team spirit and constructive working together. Worse, it can be a threat if this individual is seen as trying to ‘take over’ from or undermine the leader.
Selfishness and empty conceit are character issues. They have nothing to do with the purpose of the team. If allowed to continue unchecked they will seriously affect the way in which the team operates and the accomplishment of the purposes for which it exists.
Phil 2:3b gives the antidote – humility. One who is truly humble is able to make a sober assessment of his strengths and weaknesses and find his approval in God. It is not necessary to project himself before men. To be humble is not to be weak – indeed, it requires strength of character not to defend oneself sometimes when unfair accusation or character slur is spoken against you. But humility brings an atmosphere of peace in a team, allowing each member to function to the best of his or her ability recognising that no one member can ‘do it all’ – each needs the others. But it can take humility to allow this to happen, especially if one or two team members are particularly gifted and able.