Work as a Team

While my husband, James, and I were in Alaska, we had the opportunity to go dog sledding one afternoon. It was one of the highlights of our trip. James and I took turns helping the musher steer the team of dogs. Actually the musher was in control the entire time; he just wanted us to think that we were helping.

During the dog sledding adventure, a portion of our time was spent visiting the kennel where the 45 Alaskan huskies are kept. All these dogs run in the famous Iditarod sled race each year in Alaska. These are very well-trained dogs.

The musher, Darius, began telling us all about the race. He has been a musher for 15 years and has participated in the Iditarod for many years.

As he was telling us about the dogs, we began asking questions about the dogs, their training, etc. James asked Darius how he chose the lead dog. Darius told us that he did not choose the lead dog. He explained that the dogs know their place on the team. In essence, the dogs choose the lead dog and each dog plays a very important role in the team. He went on to say that the dogs do a great job on the team and are very content in their place on the team.

Darius then told us that every once in a while there is a dog that wants to be the lead dog. He went on to say that this situation becomes very difficult for the team of dogs. As a musher, he works with the lead dog “want to be” to try to get him back in his place. Darius said oftentimes it is more trouble than it is worth to try to get the difficult dog back in place. During this time, the entire team suffers. As the musher, he has to decide if it is worth the time, effort, and frustration it takes to help the difficult dog fall back in line. Oftentimes the dog just continues to be difficult, which continues to hurt the whole team. Most of the time, the difficult dog is taken off of the team. Since dog sledding is a team effort, the difficult dog is unable to be a part of the team even though he still has the ability to run.

That day, I learned quite a bit about being a part of a team. We oftentimes want to discount some positions while elevating others. The truth is that in order to function really well as a team, we all must work together.


Kristy Carr serves as ministry consultant for churchwide and associational leadership, national WMU.











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