Teamwork and the divine Ego
“What would you do if your team had a bunch of big egos?” That question came up in my Christian Science Sunday School class one week, and it reminded me of spiritual lessons I learned during my days of playing school sports. I had to deal with that problem my senior year of high school, and for me the answer was to get an egocentric sense of myself out of the way and to be grateful for the good qualities I could see in my teammates.
I was one of only two seniors on my team, and we were chosen by the coaches and the team to be captains. All of us had played together for almost five years on a very successful travel team. I was looking forward to another successful season, but in one preseason tournament our team seemed to fall apart. Several of the players began to turn on each other, which took the whole team down, and we didn’t even qualify for the semifinals in a tournament we regularly won. I went home and thought, “I’m not much of a team captain if I can’t even get our best players to focus.”
Looking for more content like this?
Get uplifting articles and podcasts in the Sentinel's weekly email.
My mom had been to every game and many practices. She knew every girl on that team, so I asked her what she would do. She said, “You need to get self out of the picture.” I told her that was easier said than done. There was constant rivalry among some of the team members who were letting self get in the way, and each thought they were the greatest. But Mom repeated: “You need to get self out of the way—and that means you, too. Jesus told his disciples that if any want to be first, the same will be last and the servant of all (see Mark 9:35). Are you ready to be last?”
Mom then suggested I look up the word Ego, under “I, or Ego,” in the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. The second paragraph of that definition begins, “There is but one I, or Us, but one divine Principle, or Mind, governing all existence; …” (p. 588). Mom also had me look up, in the same book, the definition for Mind, which begins, “The only I, or Us” (p. 591).
Jesus told his disciples that if any want to be first, the same will be last and the servant of all.
I read each definition several times and thought deeply about them. What came to me was that the only Us was singular, not plural, because God and man are one, inseparable. Only God, the one infinite Mind, was and is expressing Himself in man. That meant every one of us on the team was actually a spiritual child of God, reflecting unity, strength, agility, joy, love, and so forth. And we could only work in harmony together because every thought, idea, and action must come from the same source, God. In reality there were not separate mortal selves in this picture; there was one God with infinite expressions—the only Us, the only Ego, expressing itself in each of us.
We had a team party planned over spring break the following week, and as my mom and I prepared the food and other logistics for the party, I made a gratitude list with all the qualities I saw expressed by each member of the team. At the party, I made a point of sharing what I appreciated in each player, and that started many conversations where each team member expressed similar appreciation for her teammates. After that break, we all returned to the team with a better perspective, and our season was full of joy, success, resilience, focus, and trust.
As I discussed this experience with my Sunday School students recently, a related question came up: What about false humility, the sense of limitation that argues, “I’ll never be good at (fill in the blank)”? This too comes from a mistaken view of self. We need to get it out of the way by acknowledging God as the only I—the omnipresent, omnipotent Ego that includes all good; that acknowledgment involves real humility. As God’s spiritual, complete expression, man also includes every right quality and capacity, so we can face every circumstance with confidence, knowing that we express the intelligence of Mind, the precision of Principle, the beauty of Soul.
Learning to acknowledge the divine Ego governing each activity and relationship—every step of my day—helped me rise to whatever challenge I encountered in sports and school, and continues to do so in every aspect of my life now.