Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

Ministry is Like Pandemic

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I have written often about my love for games, and made even more references to games that are important to me or inform my theology. I particularly love good games that force players to work together and make interesting decisions. I’ll get snobby about games that are too simplistic or noncompetitive.

IMG_3414-620x350So among my favorite games is a game called Pandemic, which pits players against the board itself on a  quest to cure 4 diseases before supplies run out. The catch is that is too many outbreaks occur before the cure is found, everyone loses. That means every move is a choice between patching problems before they destroy you, and actually doing work to win the game. The goal is to allow just enough fires to burn at a time that they do not blow up.

It’s a great premise for a tense game, but it is also a great illustration of real life. And it doesn’t get talked about enough.

In our world of meritocracy and perfectionism (or bitterness and jealousy, if you prefer) the rhetoric is that if something is worth doing it’s worth doing right. But in the real world there are usually 100 things worth doing, and at least a few things that are not intrinsically worth doing at all except that somebody will punish you if you don’t.

School is a great example. Despite my nerdiness, I was never above about a B student on average. I was the kid that every teacher would take aside to give the same speech “If you only applied yourself you could be getting straight As.” But I didn’t want straight As. I wanted to build fighting robots. So I did just enough to get the grades I needed.

It’s a good thing too, because even though all my teachers were sure that attitude would get me nowhere on Wall Street, it is absolutely crucial in the Ministry. Perfectionism kills clergy. And if I had trained myself for decades not to be satisfied until everything is completed to the letter, I would be in sorry shape for the church.

Instead Ministry is like Pandemic. There will always be people upset at your last sermon, or in need of more pastoral attention. There will always be maintenance concerns and financial needs. The goal cannot be to have them all resolved. The Goal instead is to plug enough of those holes to stay afloat, and then do the work of the ministry, equipping leaders for service in the Kingdom of God.


Written by RyanGaffney

November 4, 2015 at 8:32 am

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