Playing Well With Others
I fully embody what it means to have a Type A personality. There is absolutely no way around that reality. While there are many characteristics of a Type A person that contribute to a productive society, there are certain traits that come with being Type A that I would like to tuck away into the dark corners of my life- far from the light of day. It would be a lie if I were to tell you that being an uptight over-thinker is the best way to go through this life. If I told you that I loved being a part of a team, I would be lying.
When I think of being part of a team, I shudder. My mind is instantly filled with flashbacks of my life between the ages of 12-18, when my life was filled with group projects at school. If you are a fellow Type A, you know exactly why I shudder. If you are Types B-Z, you might be confused as to where I am coming from, so let me explain. As an overachiever, I knew that a “group project” meant that I would be paired up with “Type Z” people. In my mind, Type Z personalities are lazy, incompetent, and as a whole, going nowhere in life. I knew that a group project meant that my teammates would leave their responsibilities to that last minute, they would do a horrible job, and then I would have to come in and do all the work myself. Time and time again, my predictions would be completely accurate, so I never altered my view of Type B- Z people. Type A personalities are winners. All other people are losers. At least that is what my 15 year-old, underdeveloped brain was telling me.
As I began working jobs that required me to be a part of a team, these underlying thoughts that I had about those around me did not go away. I couldn’t see it at the time, but my low opinions of others was impacting the way I interacted with people. I have always said that my least favourite type of person was someone who thought they were better than everyone else, and wouldn’t you know it- I was turning into my least favourite kind of person. I found myself doubling my workload in almost every situation, only for the comfort of knowing I would not have to rely on anyone. I assumed people could not follow through with their commitments. I made judgments of other people before I had even gotten to know them. I did not know how to play well with others.
Being a Type A person has its advantages, but more importantly, there are some serious disadvantages. It was not until recently that I had a real lightbulb moment about how I was treating others. From an outside view, I never really came off as the worst person in the world, but my heart was in a pretty gross place. When I had my come-to-Jesus moment about what was really going on inside of me, I immediately felt sick, wishing I could fix every mistake I’ve ever made in my interactions with others. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. I can’t fix what I’ve done, but I can fix what I do next.
In the last year or so, I’ve learned how truly important people are. There is no strength in going through this life without others to stand next to you. An amazing example that I have been studying lately is the dynamic of Jesus and his 12 disciples. I would bet money on the fact that those 13 guys did not all share the same personality traits. I’m sure there were some Type A’s, B’s, and Z’s in that group. Jesus did not look down at those men. Jesus did not look down on anyone he came into contact with. So, if Jesus values each of us with our unique hard-wiring and capabilities, what gives me the right to look down my nose at others who are not like me? How can I claim to be a Christian if I am constantly writing people off as useless? If God had done that with humans, where would we be? I think we’d be up a special creek without a paddle.
As someone with the desire to be a leader, the first person I need to examine is myself. We cannot grow as leaders, servants, and people if we are in denial about who we truly are. It takes all sorts of people to have a successful team- not just one uptight person pulling the team along. Playing well with others does not come naturally to me. Maybe you feel the same way I do. I wish there was a nice, tidy box that I could place my many issues in, and slide it underneath my perfectly made bed. Unfortunately, there isn’t. The only way to grow and better serve your family, community, and Christ is to face these LOVELY characteristics head on. No denial. No justification of your actions. All we can do is ask Christ to guide us along this journey, and, even though I’m nowhere near the destination, I know that if I faithfully serve God, He will lead me to a better view of myself and others, allowing me to be a much better team player.
By Erika Penner
Erika is a young adult, trying to navigate through the awkward transition from university student to young professional. She was born and raised in Mission, BC, but is currently living in Sendai, Japan, working as an English teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and if shopping were a sport, she would probably be an Olympian. She also firmly believes that coffee is the most important food group. Erika is passionate about seeing people transformed by Christ, and is excited to see how God will use her as she embarks on a journey of serving Him!