Monday 29 January 2007

Team Life and Team Resiliency

During the months of February and March we are exploring team life and team resiliency. We will add some core thoughts taken from various sources.

Let’s begin this month with some thoughts on friendship, with applications to team life. Here is an excerpt from the Book of Sirach in the Septuagint, circa 190 BC. It reflects “classic wisdom” on the nature of friendship. Sometimes folks say this is too pessimistic. Others think it is a sobering appraisal of reality. What do you think, and how does it relate to team life for you?

Note: You can access all 51 chapters of Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus) at This site also has links to different translations of Sirach. Chapter 12:8ff has some additional gems on friendship (e.g. In prosperity you cannot tell who is your friend, but in adversity you cannot mistake an enemy.).
Friendship--Sirach 6: 5-17
5 If you are polite and courteous, you will enjoy the friendship of many people. 6 Exchange greetings with many, but take advice from only one person out of a thousand.

7 When you make friends, don't be too quick to trust them; make sure that they have proved themselves. 8 Some people will be your friends only when it is convenient for them, but they won't stand by you in trouble. 9 Others will fall out with you over some argument, and then embarrass you by letting everyone know about it. 10–11 Others will sit at your table as long as things are going well; they will stick to you like your shadow and give orders to your servants, but they will not stand by you in trouble. 12 If your situation takes a turn for the worse, they will turn against you, and you won't be able to find them anywhere. 13 Stay away from your enemies and be on guard against your friends.

14 A loyal friend is like a safe shelter; find one, and you have found a treasure. 15 Nothing else is as valuable; there is no way of putting a price on it. 16 A loyal friend is like a medicine that keeps you in good health. Only those who fear the Lord can find such a friend. 17 A person who fears the Lord can make real friendships, because he will treat his friends as he does himself.

Some questions to consider:
  • How does this advice on friendship reflect the way you interact with others?
  • How might your team/group be different if it followed Sirach’s advice?
  • With whom are you a "true friend"? How do you know?
  • Is Sirach’s advice/caution the de facto approach for most cultures in the world?



Anonymous said...

I prefer the instruction of the Bible... Proverbs 18:24 instructs us to be friendly if we have or want friends. It also encourages us that it is possible to find friends that stick closer than a brother. In I Corinthians 13 we are instructed about the true nature of love. The old saying, "better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all" goes with the I Cor. 13 love chapter. We are told how to truly love people and we are encouraged to put it into practice.

The Sirach 6 strikes me as the natural tendency of man in the first place - to be reserved in offering himself as a friend and to be cautious and/or suspicious about who you open up to.

I believe that the Bible calls us to a more positive and proactive approach that is altogether different from our natural tendencies. That is to love all people (including our enemies) and to show ourselves friendly, even though there is a risk involved. Jesus took that risk for us and we ought to model that for others.

Mama C said...

I would agree with Mark G. Sirach 6 seems to me to be about building 'fences' around ourselves to protect, and about what we gain from friendship, not about gving without an expectation of receiving.

In terms of team life, especially with Gen X and Millenials, we have to remember the 'Belong', 'Believe', 'Behave' model. If we are going to offer friendship only when they 'behave' in an acceptable way, then they will never have that sense of belonging to the team, and relationships will be stifled.

Member Care Associates said...

I like the idea of taking both risks to Connect and taking precautions to Protect in our relationships. It seems to me that Sirach is talking more about our need for confidants and true friends, and not being too quick to DEEPLY trust just anyone, even a "friend". His caution is tempered by his comment that we will treat others as we treat ourselves, and that those who fear YHWH make true friends.

I really appreciate John Piper's comments about why followers of Jesus Christ can and should take risks---our eternal risk is sorted out, which means that we can take temporal risks to love and serve others. To see his one-page article (A Call to Christian Risk) go to:, under the Updates section (December 2006).

For teams, I think disucssing Sirach 6, and identifying 10+ key verses in Proverbs on relationships, could be a really good team building tool. I like the many wise, balancing verses in Proverbs, such as:
**Proverbs 20:6--Many people proclaim their own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy person?
**Proverbs 19:4,6--Wealth adds many friends, but a poor man is separated from his friend.....and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.
**Proverbs 18:24--A person with lots of friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend/lover who sticks closer than a brother.