Guardians of the Galaxy has to be my favorite movie of the year. It’s not just because I like superheroes.
I love the messy world with imperfect heroes who work together and save everyone. Why do they succeed, despite the odds against them? They aren’t the perfect story book heroes. Nevertheless, they are a textbook example of effective teamwork. The most effective teams I have worked with share these characteristics.
- Divergent Backgrounds. When leaders make the mistake of assembling a team of like-minded people from the same circumstances, it makes sense in the short term because there is minimal conflict. Over time, these teams become stale, boring, and lose their edge. However, stronger teams are built from people from different backgrounds. They bring unique strengths, perspectives, and friends to the table. With nonprofits, this is particularly essential as each person from a different background bring potential volunteers from an entirely different circle. The wider the range of experiences in our circle, the more opportunities we have for creative solutions to unexpected problems.
- Difficult Past Challenges. Heartbreak, loss, and personal tragedies could have defined different guardians. They lost families and cultures, were tortured, were abused, and were used. Some would have been broken by these losses. But the Guardians work to overcome their pasts. Parts of their past come back to haunt them at times.
- Unique Abilities. The Guardians discover when they work together, the whole is stronger than their individual parts. Everyone, from the small racoon to the wooden Groot, can use those unique talents to solve problems. Some would underestimate their individual potential to help the team.
- Humor. We get by with a little help from our friends, and that’s a whole lot easier when we can laugh at ourselves.
- A Focus Towards the Future. Despite those past losses, the Guardians help each other keep a focus towards the future. As they help each other do that, the destructive potential of their toxic pasts diminishers.
- Self Sacrifice. Initially, Groot is a simple tree who can’t even talk. At the end, he’s the one who can save everyone else. He cares about the Guardians and willingly gives of himself to save everyone else.
Each of these things don’t just describe an effective team or why Guardians of the Galaxy save the day at the end of the team. They also describe the body of Christ and the real world in which I live.
The real world isn’t a place of perfect families and people that perfectly fit into neat boxes that are easily categorized. Instead, our world is often a mess of flawed, broken people in circumstances we cannot fathom.
With Jesus Christ, they and we are reminded of that flicker of light in each of us such that when we learn to use our talents and respect the talents of others around us, great things happen.
Jesus ate with thieves and spoke with prostitutes. When Pharisees tried to force him into their convenient little boxes, he turned their world on end. He didn’t let them stop him from serving others and teaching those around him. He teaches us today.
And when we let Him, He helps us work together as the Body of Christ, still making incredible things happen that transform the world.
And if we happen to laugh along the way with a great romp of a film like Guardians of the Galaxy, so much the better.