The Privileged Life: Are You a Soloist or a Team Player?

“A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; for by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 24:5-6

Think about all the little luxuries in your life, many you might take for granted. 

Things like seedless grapes. Indoor plumbing. Seam-free socks. An oven/range. Ready-made clothes. Perfumed soap and toilet paper. A cup of coffee or tea, to go. Soft drinks, plus ice in summer. Radio…any recorded music, for that matter. Movies. Email. Social media. News, 24 hours. Ballpoint pens and mechanical pencils. Weather reports. Vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, washer/dryer, refrigerator. Ice cream! Antibiotics. Air conditioning. Cars, trains, planes. Modern life, in general. 

From the 19th-century industrial revolution, through 20th-century warfare and the post-war boom, on into 21st-century silicon chips—we have experienced startling advancements in communication, transportation, health, and home comfort. 

Think of great visionaries who propelled us into a “present day” that was once only a dim future—Isaac Singer, who invented the first commercially-successful sewing machine and launched the entire ready-to-wear fashion industry. Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, illuminating the world. Dr. Jonas Salk, a medical pioneer whose vaccine against poliomyelitis freed us from the crippling disease of polio. Computer innovators Bill Gates with Microsoft, Steve Jobs with Apple, giving us personal tech devices that connect us with the world.

While many of these seem to be “soloists,” none of them worked completely alone. They built on the precedents, research, and knowledge of others before them. They used what had already been accomplished, both failures and successes, as a springboard for their own projects. Plus, they had teams of co-workers and helpers.

Here’s a great example—the development of the transistor radio:

During World War Two scientists and engineers at Bell Laboratories conducted research on many radar and radio devices. One goal was to find a replacement for fragile and energy-wasting vacuum tubes. Building on war-time research, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, working with group leader William Shockley, developed a device they called a transistor….Bell publicly announced the new invention on 30 June 1948….As engineers learned how to use the new invention, plans were made for commercial products that could take advantage of the transistor’s small size, energy efficiency, and rugged design. In 1953 hearing aids became the first commercial product to use transistors. A small, portable radio seemed a good opportunity, and a company called Idea Incorporated designed and produced the Regency.…Work began in earnest in the spring of 1954, and this first Regency transistor radio was in stores for the Christmas season later that year…Capable of receiving AM stations, the radio cost about $50 (that would be almost $400 today.)”1

There’s no way the transistor radio—the first widely-used, portable, pocket-sized communication device and distant ancestor of the smartphone—could ever have been the product of one person. Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space) and U.S. astronaut Susan Helms (the first female crew member aboard the International Space Station) didn’t launch themselves into the stratosphere and history—they were aided by thousands of predecessors, such as people like “Hidden Figures” mathematician Katherine Johnson.2

Amazing things can be achieved when people work together for the common good. I’m learning that lesson these days. Most writers are soloists, and I like working by myself. But even writing is never an entirely original, single-handed job. I need editors, readers, social media advisors, prayer warriors, and accountability partners. I need help!

Scriptures are pretty clear that we were never meant to walk this earth alone, much less try to do everything ourselves. Jesus Christ, who single-handedly saved us all from our sins and redeemed us on the cross, launched His church by discipling a ragtag bunch of friends who took His message to the world. Millions of missionaries carry on His work today around the world, most of them in teams. 

Are you a soloist? Good. Use that inclination to catapult your work into the mainstream of life. There are times when it’s vital to be a soloist, to be the leader in the spotlight, to hold the torch high. But even solo performers typically sound better when they’re supported by other instrumentalists. We create a magnificent symphony when we work together in harmony.

Join hands today with others, especially as we emerge from pandemic isolation, to bring the message of Jesus Christ to those who need to hear it. Lift your heart and voice in worship together with other believers in church. Find a prayer group where you can share your prayer needs and pray for others. Learn how to be a better team player and appreciate the different gifts each individual brings to the whole. You can accomplish incredible things for His glory and to enrich the world when you embrace the help of others.

Let Christ’s love be your guide…and you’ll love being on His team!

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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1From the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center: https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_713528

2From the International Telecommunication Union (ITU): https://www.itu.int/en/myitu/News/2021/04/12/07/19/Women-in-space-history-International-Day-Human-Space-Flight

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