10 ways being a geek prepared me for ministry


Landon and Jan posted in the “10 ways being a <blank> prepared me for ministry” meme. So I thought I’d do the same. Here are ten ways that being a geek prepared me for ministry.

1. Imagining new realities is second nature to geeks. Some days it’s hard to envision a world where we all treat each other as God intended. Fortunately, geeks have +3 to imagination. We spend part of our time in the real world and the rest of it envisioning new worlds. My imaginary passport has stamps in it from Perth, Azeroth, Middle Earth, Pliocene Earth, Barsoom, Federation Space, Tatooine, and numerous parralel and alternate universes.

2. Even if you do everything right, things may not go your way. We can make the best plans for a new program, a sermon, or a Session meeting and still have things go wrong.  Just like your plate-armored Paladin should be able to take that low-level skeleton but rolling a d20 saving throw and getting a 1 says otherwise.

3. Don’t feed the trolls. The church, just like everywhere else, has people who have no interest in anything other than taking your time and making you angry. Don’t try to “win” against them. Smile, nod and tell them Jesus loves ’em.

4. Trekkies are like fundamentalists. Hardcore Trekkies Fundamentalist Christians have pieced together an alternate universe from bits and pieces of Star Trek Biblical canon. This universe goes far beyond what the creator ever intended.

5. Geek conventions are like Reformation Sunday. People dress up in funny costumes and celebrate a niche identity that outsiders scratch their heads at.

6. Geeks realized the impact of the internet a long time ago. Connecting with congregation members and ministry colleagues online feels a lot like hanging out on BBSs and Usenet groups 20 years ago.

7. Geeks can wear one of their many black t-shirts to an emerging/hipster worship service.

8. Geeks realize that differences are good, even if someone is really different. Geeks, by definition, are different and somewhat on the margins.  But World of Warcraft geek and Magic the Gathering geek have no business making fun of the other for being different. This is exactly how church should be. We don’t have to see eye to eye on everything (like homosexuality or whether Picard>Kirk) to be in ministry together.

9. Role playing comes easy. In various role-playing games I’ve been a: magic user, druid, lorekeeper, starship captain, jedi, mutant racoon, post-apocalytpic car driver, and giant robot pilot. In ministry I’ve been a: preacher, caregiver, plumber, computer tech, peacemaker, lawbringer, administrator, and rebel.

10. Your worth is not determined by others. Geeks have long endured scorn from those who would like to label them as ‘less than’ because of their passions and dedications. Eventually (hopefully) geeks learn to value themselves as pretty darn great regardless of what anyone else tells them. Likewise, the church spreads a message the no one’s worth should be the product of societal norms and pressures, but that each person is pretty darn great because they are a child of God.

The Reality of Parenting

Adam Walker Cleaveland wrote on his blog about trying to adjust to a new job and a new son at the same time. Either one of these is a huge change that would throw most of us for a loop, but trying to do them both at the same time is huge. 

In this post he asked some good questions that sound real familair to me:

How do I find time for myself when coming home now means that Sarah is more than willing to relinquish the baby into my care so she can nap, get some work done or just relax? How do I spend the time I feel is necessary to read, study and reflect deeply on my ministry when I need to find more Sunday School teachers, continue to learn how this church does things from potlucks, to expense reports, and pastoral care visits? Where do Sarah and I find the time to sit with each other, catch each other up on our days, and cultivate our marriage when we’re both exhausted at the end of the day and she’s ready for bed, and I’m ready to get in some “Adam time” by doing things like writing this blog post?

Here is my answer:

You don’t.

At least not anywhere close to as much as you used to and not in many of the ways that you used to. That time for yourself is gone. I’ve been looking for it for the last seven years since my son was born and haven’t found it yet. I haven’t found it as he’s got older, or in a different job, or when our daughter came into our family.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t ask the exact same questions on a regular basis that you are asking. But good parents sacrifice a huge part of themselves, their life and their time when they have children.  More than they ever imagined.

IMO, that’s the dirty little secret of parenting.

But here’s the other secret that I am still discovering…

…it’s worth it.