The other day I was looking at some of the new video games they have out now and came across an interesting term that was unfamiliar to me. The racing game we were looking at said that it now allows “griefing” between approved players. What is “griefing”?, I wondered… Wikipedia defines it as “deliberately causing annoyance (“grief” in the sense of “giving someone grief”) for the griefer’s own enjoyment. A “griefer” is someone who “deliberately irritates and harasses other players” without being bothered by the fact that their actions will cause them not to accomplish their goals in the game. In gaming, methods of griefing include “deliberately performing actions detrimental to team members’ game performance,” reversing another player’s progress, randomly destroying other player’s creations, blocking another player’s way so they cannot move or get out of a particular area, and even deliberately blocking shots from their own team. It’s actually a very serious problem to online gamers.
Now, I am nowhere close to being a gamer. My kids always beat me on Wii bowling and the racing games are a complete fiasco…also I totally rule the Just Dance game. Aaaannnyyyway… Though I’ve never experience griefing as a gamer, I’ve certainly experienced griefing in ministry! I would say that in ministry, griefers are the ones who always have a reason why your idea won’t work, why we can’t afford to do a particular outreach, why we shouldn’t change a particular way of doing things. Griefers are usually members of your church or at least very outspoken religious people. They are on your team (at least technically) but they do things that deliberately prevent the team from reaching their goals. They are the dissenting voice in the business meeting, the gossip who tears down the church in the community, the complainer who sucks the life out of the ones doing the work. Griefers block the way so that the church cannot go in the direction God is leading. They drag their feet so a movement of God runs out of steam before its full potential is met. They take aim at those in the front and deliberately shoot those who are wounded.
In the gaming community, griefers are dealt with in several ways: software companies create upgrades that prevent griefing and online companies ban griefers by blocking their access to their sites. But the most common means of deterring griefers is by reporting them to the online community, creating red flags for all of their screen names so that all the other gamers know not to allow them on their teams. In church, we can’t exactly upgrade our membership process to include spiritual background checks or interrogation questions like “Have you ever gossiped about your pastor?” or “Have you ever withheld your tithe because you didn’t agree with the church budget?” However, we can take note of obvious griefers and refuse to allow them to have control of our lives and ministries. We can “red-flag” such people and not let their criticism or complaints stop us from doing what God has called us to do. We can recognize them as professional griefers and eliminate them from our inner circle. When we know who the griefers in our midst are, we can defend against them. Remember, griefers work to intentionally hinder your ministry, and unlike true friends who have your best in mind, their concerns and criticism are not constructive. So zap those guys with your holy ray gun or give them a firm flying-roundhouse kick in the pants and get them out of the way! Make your church a “NO GRIEFING” zone and see how quickly you rescue the princess! Hmm…my analogy is quickly going to the birds (angry birds, maybe?)
Who knew you could learn so much from video games?! Guess I should play more often…wonder what I could learn from Super Mario? 😛 What about you? Have you ever experienced griefing in the church? What’s your favorite video game?