Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

Gamers make the best missionaries

by David Armstrong

You’re not serious!

Yes, actually I am. For you see, strategy game players develop several skills that are very valuable in missions.

Gamers understand the value of strategies. Whether they use general principles or well defined specifics, they have developed ways to bring success and ways to evaluate their effectiveness. In ministry and missions — as well as life in general, one must plan ahead and set up situations conducive to growth and success. Interact with others, seek advice from Godly men and set your course. Remember, “plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov 15:22).

Gamers have learned to flex in their strategies, to adjust to unexpected circumstances. They have learned to nimbly modify or shift their strategies when Plan A doesn’t work. As a result, gamers innovate, try new approaches and experiment with novel combinations. They know that when one rolls dice, the number seven should be the most frequent number with 6 and 8 right behind it. However, from experience they have learned that in any given game, that may not happen for much of the game!

No matter how much one calculates and plans, often the expected resources will actually be in short supply, the expected and hoped for patterns won’t materialize. Flexibility is key to maintaining a positive attitude in an unpredictable and changing environment.

Gamers observe what is happening around them and adjust their behavior. They notice what others do, and don’t do, and adjust their actions accordingly. They adjust to the way people trade resources. They adjust to the strength and dominance of other players in their part of the board or in their control of a given resource. They work around the interfering pieces on the board and have learned to take the resources that come their way and make the best of them or find an alternate route to the resources they need.

Gamers recognize their strengths and learn to use them to their favor. Everyone has abilities, gifts, strengths, and ways of analyzing and thinking that get them ahead.

  • Are you good at accumulating?
  • Are you good at negotiating?
  • Are you good at trading?
  • Do you make it a fun evening for everyone regardless of who wins?
  • Are you the organized banker who facilitates the game?
  • Are you the prodder who keeps the turns moving?

All of these skills can translate to the mission field. Like a gamer, you will need to realize which roles you play naturally, roles you play well and roles or activities do you not like. Gamers have learned to study themselves and know their strengths and weaknesses.

Gamers have learned to trade and help one another. The give and take of working together is essential. Granted, in Settlers of Catan for instance, some players are more grasping than others, and it can feel more like extortion than trading, but most have learned that you have to give to get, that helping others helps you as well. One never has everything he or she needs, and gamers have learned the give and take that is necessary in working with others. Smooth relationships can make or break a team on the mission field.

If you are considering being a missionary in today’s world, hone those strategy gaming skills! Playing “Settlers of Kathmandu” in real life will take all the skill you have, coupled with a firm dependence on the Holy Spirit. The resource cards will look different and often take you by surprise. The settlements and cities will be constructed with novel changes in the rules. However, by planning ahead, observing, flexing, benefiting from others and resting in God’s sovereignty through it all, God will give the increase, even if it isn’t in the way you were expecting!

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