For the duration of my adult life, I have never encountered an employer that actually did team building exercises. Before I started working for a ministry, my employer didn’t really care much about the cohesiveness of the team. When I had my own company, it didn’t have time to grow into a team to do much building anyway. Working at a ministry provided a different cause but the same result: we were all there because we believed in what we were doing. No one takes a job in ministry for the money, you know?
Now that I find myself working with my good friend Jon Simpson at Canonball Creative, I’ve found that there is indeed a value in these out-of-office experiences. Today, we played Whirlyball against another company we do a lot of work with. If you’re like me and the term is completely new to you, think of it as a peculiarly fun mix of polo, lacrosse, basketball, and bumper cars. Didn’t see that last one coming, eh? Me either. Gotta say, though, it’s a lot of fun.
And that’s important in the workplace.
When I had my own company, I was heavily invested in what I was doing (obviously). I never had any question about whether to go the extra mile or work hard because I lived work. Fast forward to working in a healthy ministry environment. It was easy to take for granted the fact that we were all bought in to a common vision, that we want to work through the inevitable difficulties because we were passionate about what God was doing through the practical, day-to-day work we did.
In the secular world, at least when you’re not personally invested in your job (that is to say, it’s just “a job”), there’s not much value in the cohesion and the team environment short of avoiding punishment and/or confrontation. I’m the type to throw myself into what I’m doing, but not everyone is made up of the same stuff as me. Enter the team building exercise.
Camaraderie produces efficiency; it’s not just about avoiding problems. And on some level, bonds develop between people working together anyway. However, there’s nothing quite like doing something for fun, something outside the office, something that calls on the same traits and natures as work but in a non-working environment.
For the team, it seemed to be a good bonding experience. For me, it was surely that. But it also gave me a chance to have a wholesome, healthy, fun distraction from the stuff of life. No profound spiritual insight was gained from it; no intense work of the Lord was witnessed through it; and no mighty wind swept through the place. But it was lighthearted fun. And I think that’s what I needed today.