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Mutagen Cells

"And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it."1

In his book, The Magic of Teamwork, Pat Williams shared how "Chad Sheron was an outstanding basketball player at Vanderbilt University. He came up with a great metaphor describing the interaction of individuals and teams—but his metaphor comes not from the world of sports but from his premed studies at Vanderbilt. He observed that the various cells of the human body—muscle cells, blood cells, organ cells, bone cells, and all the other cells—are designed to work together to enhance the health and life of the entire body. Each cell is a part of the body's 'team.' But there is one kind of cell that can create enormous problems for the body—a cell called a mutagen. 'A mutagen,' Chad observes, 'is a cell that has stopped acting like its peer cells and just grows for its own sake. Just as mutagens cause cancer in the human body, people who behave like mutagens can have a cancerous effect on a team."2

Either rightly or wrongly I was taught years ago in a pastoral counseling class that every church has a church boss—and very often it isn't the pastor. Almost always, wherever people are together, there is someone who wants to be in control. The church is no different because we are all fellow strugglers—sinners saved by grace—and, unfortunately, we won't be free from conflict until we get to heaven.

I recall some years ago in the church where I was a member how I said to the pastor about a "control freak" member that if he (the pastor) didn't get rid of this "control freak" member, this member would do his utmost to get rid of him (the pastor), which he almost did and, in so doing, caused great harm to the church. So what do we do with these "mutagens"? It's tough I know, but there are times when tough love is called for, and we have to do what we need to do. For if we have a "cancer" and don't get rid of it, the cancer will get rid of us.

It may be a bit crude, but when they threw troublemaker Jonah overboard, there was a great calm. At the very least, discipline is needed to reform "mutagens." If this fails, then the Jonah principle may need to be applied to save the many from the damage by the least.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me never to be a 'mutagen' in any group—whether it is at my work place, on a sports team, at church, and especially in my home. And where there is a 'mutagen' in any one of these where I am a team player, please give me the wisdom to know how and the courage to lovingly deal with this person as You would do. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."

1. 1 Corinthians 12:26 (NKJV).
2. The Magic of Teamwork by Pat Williams, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997, p. 10. Cited on


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Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.