Business handshake. Two businessman shaking hands (Vintage tone)

“There isn’t a single person in the world who can make a pencil,”

Last week, I started a two-part series on partnering, with the hope of bringing some clarity and wisdom for us on the pre-requisite of partnering for success and significance. Let’s start with a partnership example entitled Three Voices — One Heart.

In recent years, opera superstars Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti enjoyed singing together. They did it frequently, but prior to their first performance the three world-class tenors had never sung together on one stage.

The November 1994 issue of Atlantic Monthly reported that prior to their performance in Los Angeles, a journalist tried to press the issue of competitiveness between the three men. But they quickly disarmed him. “You have to put all of your concentration into opening your heart to the music,” Domingo said. “You can’t be rivals when you’re together making music.”

Do you see that? Even though they were “competitors” in the same market, having different styles and interpretations of opera, none of them were as good as all of them. Mother Teresa said it this way, “You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together, we can do great things.” Most times, it is better to have one person working with you than three working for you.

I know what you’re thinking. It sounds something like this, “Partnerships among diverse people who hold different perspectives is impossible in today’s world. There’s no negotiation, no cooperation, only competition and marginalization.”

Yes, we do live in world and nation, currently fragmented and polarized. Individuals and small tribal focus groups with loud megaphones challenge us to choose their end of the bell-shaped curve. They think their thing is everything. But when “a” thing becomes “the

thing,” you don’t get anything — at least for long. Good things taken to extremes become bad things.

God didn’t design us to live at the end of the bell-shaped curve. Believe it or not, sooner or later, this too will pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass. Why? God hates an unjust or false balance. (Proverbs 11:1.)

People who press their finger forcefully on one end of the scale, tipping the scale to their viewpoint without consideration of other’s viewpoints, offend God and others. For every action eventually there is an equal and opposite reaction. When self-absorbed leaders and small focus groups press their finger on the scale, God’s finger presses the other end of the scale, putting things back into balance. God designed people and nations to live in balance and harmony, not at the ends of the bell-shaped curve.

This is true in running a nation. A nation is a group of tribes or states who come together for a common purpose. In the case of the United States, it is 50 tribes, each with its own distinctives and needs. One or two states, or even five states, should not run the country. The needs of all 50 states must be considered. The small picture was never designed to be the big picture.

What keeps a nation together is its Constitution. The Constitution defines a country’s values. It’s the law of the land. Any issue outside of the Constitution is a tribal or state issue. One tribe, state or focus group was never designed to run the nation; that’s too narrow, too provincial, too limited in scope.

Nations were designed so that no one group or person will get everything they want but they can get something of what they want. That takes appreciation, negotiation, maturity and humility. It’s a celebration of differences. Opposites attract, then negotiate their differences. That requires partnership. We can agree to disagree, but still be together as a nation, organization, church or whatever. Often the rough edge of another is the tool that sharpens us. We tend to grow more by a positive partnership than by trying to go it alone.

What is a partnership? Partnership is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organized objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. Simply put, it is less “me” and more “we” (author unknown). Partnerships require give and take because partnerships look for a win-win for the betterment of all.

A.W. Tozer said, “God is looking for people though whom He can do the impossible. What a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.”

Think on this quote: “There isn’t a single person in the world who can make a pencil,” stated Newsweek columnist Milton Freeman as he opened his new TV series, “Free to Choose.” “The wood may have come from a forest in Washington, the graphite from a mine in South America, and the eraser from a Malaysian rubber plantation. Thousands of people cooperate to make a pencil.”

Let’s conclude with this thought. Partnerships won’t work with just a jawbone, a wishbone or a funny bone. Partnerships work with backbone. John Maxwell says, “Jawbones are people who merely want to talk about it getting done. Wishbones are people who merely wish that someone would do it. Funny bones are people who never get serious about getting it done. Backbones are people who work together to get the job done.”

Here’s the takeaway. If you see a turtle on a fence, it for sure had a partner to get there.