Diverse Excellence

A group becomes a team when its members set a common goal. The personalities and paradigms of the members may be different, but, if their commitment is true, the goal will come to life. Often the variations within can be difficult for the team and cause diversity. We know this because we’ve been involved with all sorts of teams at one time or another, and each of us has had to learn to cooperate, bite the tongue, look the other way, and give a little, or a lot, for the common good.  A team’s ultimate success depends not only on the people, but also on the integrity of the goal.

When I was given the task of creating a staff for the fitness center of a five-star hotel, I had never even interviewed anyone in my life, let alone checked qualifications, understood job descriptions, or determined hourly wages.  I was fortyish, never had a salaried job, and felt vastly under-qualified. I didn’t even know how to operate a photocopy machine. Due largely to my lack of experience, yet true to my nature, l liked everybody who came into my brand new office and enjoyed letting them interview me. Meanwhile I prayed like a crazy person for wisdom and guidance, while God assembled His team.

Within a month, my new staff and I asked God for a vision for our fitness center. Together we prayerfully committed to create a safe, welcoming environment for guests and clients seeking relaxation, rejuvenation, and restoration through physical fitness, and to give God the glory for every victory.  With our goal before us, the staff at the Founders Inn Fitness Center became a team.

In spite of the fact that we were immersed in a Christian environment and we prayed together at our staff meetings, there were challenges within the ministrations of our fitness endeavor. We were a motley group.

A former stay-at-home mom and aerobics instructor, I suddenly found myself in charge of a spirited, stalwart bunch of young adults. Except for our passion for fitness, we could not have been more different from each other.

My first interviewee was so laid back I wondered if he could push a lawnmower, let alone lift barbells. He walked slowly, kept to himself, and cared little about his appearance. Why did I hire him? God had told me, “This is your first one.” And so he was. For nine years, he managed the registers, cleaned and repaired equipment, worked extra hours, and charmed the hotel guests with his gentle demeanor. He faithfully served the team’s goal.

A little while later I hired a giant of a kid with a smile as wide as his legs were long. He was an athlete and loved children, so he had been an easy pick. He filled our fitness center with gales of high-pitched laughter and delighted us by singing beach rock ‘n roll while cleaning the center’s pools. Larger than life, he took the team’s goal to heart.

Our massage therapist carried a jug of garlic water and knew all about herbs and organic food. We could smell garlic fumes from the therapy room as she vigorously massaged her contented clients. One of our front desk attendants, always eager to help others along their spiritual walk with Jesus, welcomed exercise enthusiasts with a warm smile that soon engaged them in a life-giving conversation.

Over the years that the fitness center thrived, the staff multiplied and changed. It included a muscular Italian dedicated to the expertise of weight training. A student of theology with endless energy, he had such a passion for fitness he was a magnet of success for our Fitness Center.  Everybody loved him, so it was no surprise to any of us when he jaunted through the front door with Pat Robertson skipping at his heels!

Another one of my employees is now a proud grandpa whom I often see at church beaming with the vitality of good health and an active lifestyle. He had become one of the gym’s most fervent cross-trainers and still humbly claims that his boss, “The Terminator,” trained him.

It’s not hard to imagine the dynamics pinging off the walls from this diverse group as we created programs, classes, and evaluations for hundreds of people. But what unified us was our mission, which we pursued with passion, gritting our teeth and holding our tongues, as we created a ministry of health and fitness.

Little did we know it, but our team’s goal had been God’s goal all along.  We welcomed people to a place where they could become as healthy and strong as He had created them to be. This was His victory, not ours.

A team whose members are committed to its goal can be successful in our world of diversity, and this is a sweet victory. But the team whose goals are first committed to God joins His Higher Team’s purpose – that of bringing victory to a diversified world and giving Him all the glory.

“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worship together as some do but spurring each other on as we see the big Day approaching.” -Hebrews 10:24-225