Ugh! The Dreaded Group Project!

School was a joy for me.
I liked to read, take notes, study, and learn.
A motivated, independent learner.
That was the goal and that’s what I was.
There was one part of school, however, that always sent me scrambling –
the dreaded group project.
Oh my wretched life, I HATED group projects.
The horror began with the assignment of the groups
always some teacher thinking it was good to “mix things up” and group people with students who weren’t their friends.
We weren’t friends for a reason, people!
Then, the first hurdle the group faced would be to make sure everyone understood the actual assignment –
there was always one kid who didn’t get it
through the entire duration of the assignment.
Trust me, there is such a thing as a dumb question.
Then came the division of labor.
That usually involved significant periods of staring
as people put serious effort into avoiding the tasks that required actual work.
Leadership of the group would fall to the student who cared the most about the grade
and so the bulk of the work
would also fall to the leader.
One kid would never pull his or her weight –
perfecting the art of looking like no one told him he had to participate in the assignment.
He forgot.
He misunderstood.
His family had a crisis.
He forgot again.
Wait, what was the assignment?
A couple of kids would make half-hearted attempts at their tasks
but the leader would still have to stay up late
re-doing them so the group would have a shot at a passing grade.
One or two group members would take the project seriously and work their tails off
but they wouldn’t be happy either
because the end result would be credited to the whole group
and that unfairness could suck the spit out of the finest horn section in New Orleans
so group projects always felt like a ginormous exercise in relentless futility.
Can you relate?
Some days, church feels like one giant group project.
And God feels like that teacher
who thinks it’s good for students to learn to cooperate with people who are really different,
a teacher more concerned with the process,
with character-building,
with relationship skills,
and team dynamics
than a final letter grade.
And each of us pouts and thinks that, somehow,
whatever group we’re not in is probably the one working like a well-oiled machine
while we, alone, are stuck with the
clunkers and the clueless
and we plead for a new assignment –
please, Lord, put us with the kids who function at our level
so our project will truly reflect our abilities
And God smiles and says
“Oh, I think the group you’re in is reflecting your abilities just fine right now. I got your grade, right here.”
Group projects were like being tested on some skill
I felt was totally irrelevant to education
and to life.
Sometimes, I act like church  is just as irrelevant
to the building of God’s kingdom
a distraction
like “Hey! All these people just get in the way, Lord, of reaching the world. I mean, isn’t that the point? Isn’t that what we’re being graded on?”
Sheesh, it’s like God doesn’t even get the whole point of what we’re doing here, right?
(This is the point where Jesus just cringes at His front row seat to my internal thought processes.)
God is not only good
and wise
and infinitely creative
He is also very, very, very, very patient
with all His students
even the ones working so hard to get it right
and wishing everyone else was just like them.
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
 If they were all one part, where would the body be?  
As it is, there are many parts, but one body.  
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”  
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.
And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,  while our presentable parts need no special treatment.
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,  so that there should be no division in the body,
but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
 Now you are the body of Christ,
and each one of you is a part of it.” I Corinthians 12:18-27

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    The Conversation

  1. Cyn Rogalski says:

    I, too, dreaded the infamous “group project”. I never thought of them in this context before. Thanks for more thought provoking great stuff!
    Still praying for you & Rob.
    Many blessings to you my friend.

  2. I was singin’ along with ya on the group project memories until you compared that experience to church. That’s when you started meddlin’, as is said.
    Excellent thought-provoking ‘cross reference’.
    I’m not sure how God wired your brain, but I’m blessed by it.

  3. Aaaah! It’s like God’s talking to you about my life right now!

    Thanks for the confirmation and the chance to ponder again what He’s really up to. Your insights are an inspiration, always.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I can SO relate to this post, both in past school assignments and in church work. My wise husband says, “Honey, she is a sister in Christ. Work. It. Out.”

    Thanks for the encouragement today!


  5. I’m so disappointed…I thought you were going to just articulate my exact thoughts on group projects and how ridiculous they are – I’m newly frustrated having just suffered through Megan’s spring semester Senior year in COLLEGE where her final project for her minor in Arts Entrepreneurship was a group project with exactly these dynamics…then you go and make a spiritual lesson out of it that completely smacks me in the face…Sweet Lori, I love you, but OUCH! Really?! OK, yes, I needed that. sigh.