This week we’re on a water ski trip with our high school ministry. It’s a relaxing trip and provides a great opportunity to build relationships and spend time with students. A great way to build those relationships is by playing games. As discussed before, Christians love playing board games because it provides a way to boast even when we’re not supposed to boast. I was introduced to a new game, though, that leaves no room for boasting.
The game is called Pandemic.
In Pandemic all the players are working together to defeat the outbreak of four diseases. The players openly share what cards they have and what they’re going to do on their turn. The players cooperate with each other and devise a strategy in order to find the cure and eradicate the diseases. I played Pandemic for the first time yesterday and we were able to cure and eradicate the diseases.
Technically we won but it didn’t feel like winning.
To me it doesn’t feel like winning unless somebody lost. Sure, we all worked together and defeated the game, but that just wasn’t enough. The competition strength in me needs more than a combined victory. I need a personal victory and the opportunity to look my vanquished foes in the eye. In Pandemic there are no personal victories and no defeated players to boast over.
What’s the point?
The point of Pandemic is cooperation. It’s a game about working together for the common good. If he had the opportunity, I think Jesus would have sat down with his disciples and played a game of Pandemic. Jesus was all about cooperation and working together. He knew that the task of spreading the gospel needed to be a team effort. And I’m on board with the team concept except when it comes to board games.
I certainly hope a desire to win doesn’t make someone a bad Christian. I know plenty of Christians who are just as competitive as me. Sometimes, though, that competitive spirit can turn ugly and it gives way to anger, pride and a little bit of violence (I punch inanimate object when I lose).
A competitive spirit can be a great benefit to God and the spread of his kingdom. It provides a desire to work hard and strive for the best. For those of us with that spirit, though, we need to maximize the benefits and be wary of the liabilities. And if that wariness leads to some cooperative games mixed in with the competitive games, so be it.
How does should competitiveness affect our faith and relationships?