Monthly Archives: January 2013

Teams and Teamwork: Part One

teamwork with graphicA new report authored by Warren Byrd and Ryan Hartwig from Leadership Network and Azusa Pacific University shows the results of surveying 125 church teams last year to get their input about what works and what doesn’t work in their experience. Their report provides insight on 5 proven indicators of successful teams, their top 10 findings, and 7 suggestions to strengthen your team.

Their 5 proven indicators are:

  1. Being a real work team, rather than a team in name only. Such a team has a stable membership, and high levels of interdependence among members.
  2. A clear, compelling, and consequential direction for the team’s work.
  3. An enabling team structure with well-designed team tasks, norms, and composition.
  4. An organizational context that offers necessary reward, information, material, and educational resources.
  5. Access to expert internal or external coaching in teamwork.

You can access the entire report here:

The findings of the report may or may not be surprising to you. However, if you take another look at the 5 proven indicators of successful teams, I think you’ll discover that Jesus modeled them all with his team of 12 disciples, his senior leadership team. And he did so organically, without access to any of the technology, bureaucracy, curriculum, charts, or institutional metrics that we utilize today. He didn’t even have an office, virtual or otherwise. I’ve included a chapter on teams and teamwork in my upcoming book, Growing Disciples Organically: The Jesus Method of Spiritual Formation. The book will be available the last part of April, 2013. I’ve included an excerpt below in this post and will include Part 2 in my next post.

Blank white book w/pathRegardless of the type of farm, the overall operation rises and falls on the harvest. A successful mission or season of farming depends upon the harvest. Staying on mission means focusing on properly executing all of the steps necessary to bring in the harvest. Every farmer knows that if he fails to bring in the harvest, no matter how good he may have been in planting, weeding, or pest control, he has failed.

Although we seldom used the word, virtually everything we did on the farm involved teamwork. Family members, which included at times extended family members, worked together to accomplish tasks that would have been impossible for any one of us to do alone. From bringing in the hay, to building a barn, to cutting and wrapping meat or canning produce or hauling firewood, we worked together.

When there were really big projects to accomplish, such as building a bigger barn or building, we often worked with neighbors as well. Together, we toiled and everyone did his or her part to accomplish the goal. There existed no particular hierarchy, with middle-aged men working alongside teenagers or senior citizens, each doing what he or she could do best according to their own level of skill or expertise. Artisans with years of experience willingly and without cost patiently taught younger members of the team skills that would greatly enhance their lives with the expectation that they, in turn, would train another person down the road. Thus, healthy tradition and craftsmanship continued on in an organic fashion, without bureaucratic paperwork or organizational bylaws.

Jesus showed us how teams work. He never appointed a committee or chaired a board meeting, but he was the undisputed leader. He led by example and did not try to micromanage his disciples’ activities. He empowered them to succeed and encouraged them when they failed and coached them when they needed to take the next steps in the journey. (From Chapter 13: Teamwork Makes Harvest Possible, Growing Disciples Organically: The Jesus Method of Spiritual Formation, Deep River Books, ©2013 Don Detrick)

The Tree of Life and the Life of Trees

Large Cedar Trees Grove of Patriarchs Mt Rainier Lower Res July 9 2012“It is what it is.” We often use those words to express angst, frustration, or exasperation about circumstances that we cannot control. Do you ever wonder what “what is” would be if Adam and Eve had not eaten from the forbidden tree, but instead eaten from the tree of life? In that defining moment of disobedience mortality became the destiny of all living things.

Though the number of years in a human life varies, the Bible provides a rule of thumb in Psalm 90:10, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (New King James Version) A quick Google search confirms that while nearly 30 countries can boast an average lifespan at birth of more than eighty years (, our planet’s average citizen comes closer to the longevity mentioned by the Psalmist, somewhere around sixty-seven years.

NPR featured a fascinating science story by Robert Krulwich recently about the lifespan of living things on planet earth ( The research seems to show a simple principle: Life is short for small creatures, longer for big ones. In fact, a paper done in 2007 showed a formula, that when applied to 700 different plants, correctly predicted lifespans. Krulwich states:

It’s hard to believe that creatures as different as jellyfish and cheetahs, daisies and bats, are governed by the same mathematical logic, but size seems to predict lifespan. The formula seems to be nature’s way to preserve larger creatures who need time to grow and prosper, and it not only operates in all living things, but even in the cells of living things. It tells animals for example, that there’s a universal limit to life, that though they come in different sizes, they have roughly a billion and a half heart beats; elephant hearts beat slowly, hummingbird hearts beat fast, but when your count is up, you are over. Plants pulse as well, moving nourishment through their veins. They obey the same commands of scale, and when the formula says “you’re done,” amazingly, the buttercup and the redwood tree obey. Why a specific mathematical formula should govern all of us, I don’t completely understand, but when the math says, “it’s time,” off we go …

It comes as no surprise that redwood trees live longer than ferns, but it is surprising that there is a pattern, a scientific formula if you will, that governs the span of all species of plant and animal life on planet earth. It’s almost as if someone planned it that way. Hmm, I wonder if it might have anything to do with a common Creator? Maybe “numbering our days” is more about theology than mathematics.

Old Maple Tree on Mox Chehalis Road near Malone WA 10-25-12Despite our constant human longing for a fountain of youth, we don’t seem to be able to change the formula and delay the inevitable aging process, or add more years to our life. Perhaps it should give us pause to consider the advice by the same Psalmist after pondering the brevity of our existence: “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 NKJV)

In the beginning, there was a garden. Adam and Eve had all the time in the world to tend it and reap the benefits of a weed and disease free environment. They must have been hoping for the promised knowledge when they ate the forbidden fruit. But they did not get what they expected. What they needed was wisdom to make a better choice. Had they known, they probably would have chosen to eat from the tree of life.

In the end, there will be another garden with the pristine environment Adam and Eve once enjoyed, and the fellowship with God that was broken by their act of disobedience. The Apostle John describes that future scene: “On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and His servants will worship Him.” (Revelation 22:2-3 New Living Translation) We will learn infinitely more from the tree of life than we will from the life of trees.

It is what it is. Our days are numbered. Yet if we apply our hearts to wisdom and learn to number our days we’ll discover that God has a plan to exchange our mortality for immortality as we trust in Christ’s sacrifice for our sin and disobedience. When we do, we’ll reserve a future opportunity to enjoy the fruit from the tree of life forever. Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, but the life in the years.”

Both tree photos (c) by Don Detrick – the top photo shows cedar trees in The Grove of the Patriarchs in Mt. Rainier National Park. Lower photo an ancient maple tree on Mox Chehalis Road near Malone, WA.

If you are reading this on one of my blogs other than, you might want to know that I will be posting mainly here in the future:

Welcome to my blog!

Thanks for visiting. I’ve been blogging rather sporadically on a couple of sites for a few years. Starting in 2013 I hope to get more serious about regularly posting, and for those of you who know me, I promise they won’t all be twelve page sermons! In time I will add a lot of resources to this new website (, including sermon notes from my thirty-plus year archive of pastoral ministry, notes and presentations from various university or seminary classes I’ve taught, and links to various articles I have written over the years.

My book, Growing Disciples Organically: The Jesus Method of Spiritual Formation (Deep River Books, 2013) will be available sometime in April 2013. I am working on a website specifically for the book and it will feature articles, resources, Bible studies, coaching and mentoring ideas about spiritual growth and discipleship. It should be up and running before the book comes out. Watch for future posts about it.

My wife, Jodi has a new book coming out in 2013 as well: The Jesus-Hearted Woman: 10 Leadership Qualities for Enduring and Endearing Leadership (Influence Resources, 2013). She is also a regular columnist for The Seattle Times, one of America’s leading daily print and e-newspapers. You can find some of her back columns at and then doing a search for Jodi Detrick. You can also find more at  Did I mention to you how proud I am to be her husband? Besides being the national chairperson for the Women in Ministry Network (, she is a terrific public speaker and life coach. Most of all, she is the woman I have been married to and loved for more than thirty-five years, and the fantastic mother of our three children and three of the smartest and cutest grandchildren in the world.

As many of you who are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter know, I love photography. I’ll be featuring a lot of my photos and related posts on this site as well. I’ve had some photos published in our local paper, and last year (2012) one of my photos was a picture of the year for the Sno Valley Star ( If you click on the link to read that edition of the paper, you’ll find my photo on page eight.

You can find me on Facebook:  or Twitter:  @dondetrick or at and I’m linkedin, too!

So let’s stay in touch, and God bless.