I spent a lot of my life playing sports. The seasons of my life were football, basketball, and baseball. I never really thought much about winter, summer, or fall. My life was determined by what sport I was playing. Now, I’m not saying I played any of these sports well, but I was always just good enough to make the team. Even with that, I was able to learn some great life lessons from being on a team.
The very same things that make a great team also make a great marriage. Such as:
A great team has a Common Goal. Every player on the team is committed to the same thing—winning the championship. Everyone knows at the end of the season they will be judged by one standard: did they win the championship? In marriage, we assume we’re both committed to the same goal, but we never take the time to articulate the goal we have in mind. Because we never speak it out loud, there’s a danger we’ll each have our own goal in mind and assume the other person agrees with us. Every good team knows what the trophy looks like. Do both of you know what the trophy for your marriage looks like?
A great team has a Common Strategy. That is, everyone knows how the team wants to play the game. Does your team run a wishbone, power I, or a run and shoot? Is the defense based on a 4-3 or 3-4? Everyone on the team knows how the team wants to play the game BEFORE they start the game. Do you and your spouse know the strategy you’re using to reach the common goal? Do you have budget? Clear expectations? No team would win if each player was running a different play. A marriage can’t win when each spouse is running his or her own play. Make sure each of you know HOW you’re getting to your WHERE.
A great team has players with Different Gifts to play different positions. Not everyone can be the quarterback. Someone has to block. Not everyone can be the scorer. Someone has to play defense. No one position is more important than another. Each position has to be played and played well if the team is to win. On great teams, everyone knows their position. In great marriages, each spouse knows how his or her gifts add to the success of the relationship.
Because we each have different gifts, it follows that we have Different Assignments. Play your position and trust your spouse to play theirs. One of the things you learn playing for a good team is you can’t play every position. You have play your position and trust the rest of the team to play theirs. In your marriage, you have certain roles to fulfill. Do your job and/or jobs and trust your spouse to do theirs. It’s the only way a team wins.
And one last thing, a great team celebrates One Victory. When the last game is finally over and the trophy is hoisted high above everyone’s heads, each player knows they own a small part of that trophy, but they also know it’s a team victory. There’s no better feeling in the world than looking at your teammates and remembering all of the hours of practice and now, celebrating the reality of finally being champions.
I take that back. There is one greater feeling. It’s the moment when you look at your spouse and remember all of the years of sacrifice and know that, together, you’ve won. Maybe it’s paying off the house, or a child graduating. Your trophies will be unique to the two of you. But you’ll know you’re champions. Celebrate this victory. It’s what great teams do.