What Comes First, the Team or the Individual?

One sweeping generalization that is somewhat accurate is the East is mostly made up of cultures that value the group over the individual, and the West is mostly made up of cultures that value the individual over the group.

An observation we make often here at Family Teams is that the individualism we are saturated with in the West is destroying the family.

When no one is willing to sacrifice for the team the team falls apart.

But just like a culture turns toxic with too much individualism a culture will also turn toxic when the group always wins.

So what’s the answer?

Our family is in one of the busiest seasons we’ve ever experienced. 

Three of our family businesses started booming at the same time, and our kids sprang into action to fill the gap. But as this continues we’re watching some individual values begin to suffer. Sometimes we can have too much team.

How can we find the proper balance?

Well, right at the geographical location where East meets West, in the land of Israel, a man demonstrated, for the first time in human history, how to properly bring these two values together in a way that transcends the dichotomy.

And this is what he taught us.

A society is better if it gives the individual freedom to choose his or her own path. Jesus demonstrated this constantly by approaching individuals and calling them to follow him. He wasn’t calling for a new controlling religion or a political revolution—he was appealing directly to individual hearts.

But he showed what can happen when one of these individuals voluntarilychooses to sacrifice for the group.

And through his self-giving love how that inspires other individuals to voluntarilymake that choice as well.

When an entire community of individuals, with the freedom to choose, choose to serve and love God and one another first you have a church.

A family team works the same way.

We continually call our children to voluntarily make individual sacrifices for the family. And in turn we continually call the family to make collective sacrifices for the individual. 

Because we refuse to simply default 100% to one side or the other, this becomes a dance of mutual giving when each act of love can be received as a gift with gratitude.

Is your family too steeped in individualism? Who is going to sacrifice for the team first and call the others to join in?

Is your family too dominated by the collective? Who is going to call the group to take a hit for one of the individuals in the family?

This tension is never settled but, as we learn to dance on the fine line between East and West, we’ll find ourselves and our families walking in the way of Jesus.


P.S. Jeff and I talk about a similar topic in this video: Does a Crisis Bring Your Family Together or Apart | Ep. 251

This entry is a part of Jeremy’s Journal, a newsletter Jeremy sends out every Wednesday morning to encourage you on your parenting journey. You can sign up to get them every Wednesday here.

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