Do You Have to Like the People You Work With?

Rev. Tony Cooke

Granted, it’s great when you enjoy the people you work with, but what if one (or some) of their personalities rub you the wrong way? Can you work effectively with people if maybe they aren’t the people you would choose to be your friends in a social setting? I recently heard Pastor Dennis Cummins ( share a testimony that brought great insight regarding this issue.

In 2002, Dennis was involved in a paragliding accident. He and a few others were helping “launch” a paraplegic from 1,700 feet when his hand got caught in a strap. As a result, he was carried off the cliff and was hanging on for dear life. The imbalance caused the paraglider to spin out of control, and though Dennis tried to hang on, he finally fell more than one hundred feet before slamming on the side of the mountain below.

Dennis was in shock and completely incapacitated, having suffered neck and hip injuries. His paralysis from the neck down went away later in the ER (he credits God with that). Still, he was in traction for nine days, wore a neck brace, and had surgery three months later.

As Dennis lay completely helpless on that mountain side, emergency crews sprang into action. Responders included the state patrol, local law enforcement, the fire department, search and rescue, along with fellow paragliders. Two Black Hawk helicopters were dispatched to the scene from nearby Fort Lewis. In addition, a local news helicopter even pitched in by shining their spotlight so rescuers could get to the place where Dennis had fallen. Ambulance and hospital personnel would shortly be involved as well.

In reflecting on all of this, Dennis was so grateful that all of these people were focused on one thing and one thing only: rescuing him, stabilizing him, and saving his life. It didn’t matter if they were from different backgrounds, had different personalities, or if they even liked each other. All that mattered was that they used their energy and their skills to reach and rescue him.

Thank God that these individuals were not fickle and temperamental. It would be unimaginable if the people whose job it was to carry his stretcher off the mountain said, “That other first responder hurt my feelings once. I can’t work with him or her.” If we truly have a sense of urgency about a great cause, we are able to overlook petty and inconsequential issues. What a lesson is here for us relative to the mission of the Church!

I enjoy Ephesians 4:2-4 in the Message. It instructs believers to be “steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly.”

We have a mission before us that is greater than any of our personalities or preferences. We are called to represent Jesus regardless of whether it is convenient or comfortable. Let’s continue to work as teams, knowing there is a great cause and purpose behind all we do for the Lord.

Click here to watch Dennis share his testimony.