Image Credit:  GreatSchools

I just finished reading The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni.  He was one of the speakers at the Global Leadership Summit 2016 organized by Willow Creek Association (for more information about the annual Global Leadership Summit, click here).  Lencioni is founder of The Table Group, a consulting firm that specializes in leadership, teamwork, and organizational health.

As I was reading the book, I was thinking about how the Church needs ideal team players.  As the Body of Christ, the Church is made up of many different parts that work together (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).  If those parts don’t work together as a team, the Body starts to malfunction and becomes an ineffective witness to Christ’s saving power.

The Model

In his book, Lencioni says the ideal team player is humble, hungry, and smart.  Most people have varying degrees of these traits but the ideal team player is strong in all three areas.  Lencioni says these traits can be learned with a little effort and consistent practice.


Image Credit:  The Table Group

  • Humble people are quick to share credit with other people on their team.  They are not concerned about status or ego.  In their eyes, success comes as a result of working together rather than from individual contributions alone.
  • Hungry people are internally motivated, always looking for more to do and learn.  They don’t need to be constantly prodded to produce results.  They’re always on the lookout for the next task or opportunity.
  • Smart people have good people skills.  They’re empathetic and know how to interact effectively with others.  They are careful not to say or do anything that could negatively impact the team.

Jesus: Ideal Team Player

In the Gospels, we see plenty of evidence for Jesus’ people smarts.  He showed an uncanny ability to get straight to the heart of a person.  Jesus’ interactions with the Samaritan woman shows how quickly Jesus is able to steer a conversation to the place of a person’s greatest need (John 4:1-42).  The rich man went away disappointed when Jesus told him to sell all of his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor; Jesus quickly discerned that this man’s problem was not obedience to the Law but his love of wealth and possessions (Matthew 19:16-22 // Mark 10:17-22 // Luke 18:18-23).  Jesus showed a great understanding of human nature when he defused a bloodthirsty crowd by asking that the person who had never sinned cast the first stone at the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).  In doing so, he also avoided a trap the religious leaders were trying to set for him and showed empathy and mercy to the woman.

Jesus was hungry to fulfill the mission that God the Father had sent him to complete.  Even though the mission of bringing salvation to the world meant that he would have to die on a cross, Jesus willingly and consistently moved toward that goal.  Jesus said, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work” (John 4:34).  Just like his Father, Jesus was always working (John 5:17) — always at the Father’s direction (John 10:32).

Jesus’ humility is also clear and is especially highlighted in Philippians 2:5-8.  He was willing to give up his divine position to take on human form.  He humbled himself to his Father’s will and allowed himself to be crucified by his own creatures.  Lencioni also makes special mention of Jesus’ humility on page 215 of The Ideal Team Player:

A Final Thought — Beyond Work Teams


Over the past twenty years, it has become clear to me that humility, hunger, and people smarts have relevance outside of the workplace.  A humble, hungry, and smart spouse, parent, friend, or neighbor is going to be a more effective, inspiring, and attractive person — one that draws others to them and serves others better.


But I must admit that apart from the other two virtues, humility stands alone.  It is, indeed, the greatest of all virtues and the antithesis of pride, which is the root of all sin, according to the Bible.  The most compelling example of humility in the history of mankind can be found in Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.  He attracted people of all kinds when he walked the earth, and continues to do so today, providing an example of humility that is as powerful as it is countercultural.


And so, it is my hope that readers of this book will take something else away with them and apply it in their lives: an appreciation for the true gift that it is to be humble and the divine origins of that virtue.

How About You?

If it is true that humble, hungry, and smart people are more effective, inspiring, and attractive, these are virtues that believers should cultivate — not to bring glory to themselves but to our Lord, the perfect embodiment of these virtues.  Which characteristic(s) do you need to work on?  How will you use your teamwork skills work effectively within the Church to bring glory to God?

Bible References

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