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A Ministry Lesson from Darth Vader

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Author/Source: Karl Bastian, the Kidologist

Topic: Priorities

In the busyness of life and ministry, don't forget your Primary Objectives, because one thing is for sure: your Enemy won't.

"Oh! No! I could actually lose!" Those were the last words my wife heard before she heard my agonizing cries of sudden and surprise defeat just a few moments later. After three hours of decisive victories and nearly conquering the known world, it was suddenly so very over.

There was a lesson in my defeat for all of us! Fortunately, it was only a computer game, but the simple mistake I made, if made in real life, could mean the end of much more - perhaps even an entire ministry!

The game was Galactic Battlegrounds, a Star Wars version of Age of Empires, the classic game of battle and conquest. If you don't know these games, you simply grow your army by gathering resources and building buildings, weapons and soldiers and then, as the commander of them all, you control the battle determining who and what to send when and where to fight. I'm not much of a computer game guy, rarely have time for them, but on vacations this game eats up amazing amounts of time!

Here's what happened. I decided (as usual) to play as the evil Galactic Empire. Partly because of all the cool ships, and partly to justify using the cheat codes so I can be infinitely wealthy and not have to bother with gathering resources. Understand, this is not cheating! I do not use any codes for invincibility, to destroy or "turn" enemies, the flying car, or the indestructible crazy Ewok (code: simonsays), I merely do what the Empire would do. Do you seriously think Darth Vader would waste time collecting resources? Hardly! He would come with everything necessary to conquer, as do I.

The object of the game is to find and destroy the Commander of each army (usually hidden in a fortress or command center). Well, I spent several hours building my home base and being quite kind to my neighbors. I resisted the urge to conquer, thus I ordered my troops to be defensive only, even leaving my leader, Darth Vader himself, outside the protection of any building just to keep it fair (of course, he was still at the heart of my base behind a vast network of walls and buildings and turrets and armed soldiers and vehicles. Sure, he was vulnerable, but highly protected). Nothing could ever get near him - that was impossible! My enemies wasted all their time, energy, and resources on skirmishes nowhere near my prized Commander. Defeat was an impossibility; victory was only a matter of time. Yet in the final moments of battle, on the brink of victory with vast armies against feeble, even pathetic foes, far from my formidable fortress, I lost. And how I lost I will never forget!

I had 7 armies against me - the Gungans and Wookies had been defeated early on, almost by accident as their small armies simply got in the way of building my base, a nuisance quickly swatted away, no match for my cheat-code enabled vast resources. But the Trade Federation and Rebel Alliance (among others) were a little farther away, and fighting those battles on 5 fronts proved time consuming, if not always challenging. Like I said, defeat was not possible, they couldn't get near my commander, but victory, though certain, was neither fast nor easy. Over and over I had to build more ships, create more soldiers, and gather more armored attack units. I was in constant production of more TIE fighters and bombers, more AT-AS and AT-ATs, and more Stormtroopers of every type. I had to keep taking my mouse and dragging a box around troops and vehicles and ships to select them and then to tell them where to go and fight. And at some point, I got careless. At some point I forgot about my Commander. I forgot that the objective of the game was not only to find and destroy the enemy Commanders, but to protect my own.

I had done so well early on protecting him, even going overboard to make him safe with an insane amount of walls and turrets, that I forgot all about him. I stopped checking on him because the enemy never even got close. It never occurred to me there was another way to be defeated. As I grew confident and comfortable with my security I focused only on my attacks and in one of those mouse-overs to highlight and select multiple soldiers to send out to battle, I must have selected Darth by mistake in the bunch!

I have no idea when or how I did it or how long it took him to walk all the way across the planet, but as I was wrapping up another successful siege, I saw on the mini-map a lone blue dot signifying one of my military units surrounded by red dots! I quickly clicked to that region of the battle field to investigate and when I saw Darth Vader all by himself surrounded by rebel soldiers I cried out, "Oh! No! I could actually lose!" I set Darth on the run and scrambled desperately to find and dispatch some of my vast and powerful army to his aid - but it was too late. No sooner than I had found a TIE Fighter than the game announced "You Have Been Defeated" and Darth Vader's funeral theme began to play. It was then that my wife heard the agonizing cries of defeat. The only thing I don't like about Galactic Battlegrounds (besides losing) is that when the game is over, win or lose, you are immediately taken away from the battlefield and to the stats and reports. I still wanted to check on all my other battles and victories, but if you lose the main objective of the game, it considers the rest instantly irrelevant.

My cries of despair were quickly turned to laughter as I as partly glad the 3-hour game had finally ended. And yet, I couldn't help thinking what a powerful lesson there was in my defeat.

In ministry, we too have an Enemy, and his sole purpose is to take down Christians, and especially leaders. Sure, our Enemy will battle us on many fronts - but make no mistake about it - his target is YOU and the heart of your ministry. Hopefully, you have guarded your heart well. You have established guidelines and installed turrets that can fight off any attempts of the Enemy. Perhaps you had this all secured and settled long ago, so you've got no worries? Remember the words of Peter: "Be self-controlled and alert! Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (I Peter 5:8) It is very easy to get very busy in ministry on many fronts and forget about watching out for what matters most! Don't allow a surprise defeat to topple you! Don't wait until you have to scramble to save what matters most. There may not be enough time then. Even the unlimited resources of God may not be able to help you then, if you carelessly neglected your main objective. Know this: If what is most important falls, all your other 'victories' will be lost and quickly forgotten. They too will become suddenly irrelevant in light of the major loss. It is still possible to win all the battles and yet still lose the war! So the lesson...

You've got a lot going on - but how is your base? What's headquarters look like? Check out your Primary Objectives. How is your walk with God? Your relationship with spouse and kids? Your personal integrity and purity? These things can bring you suddenly down in defeat despite any number of wonderful, successful, victorious, impressive aspects to your life and/or ministry.

BOTTOM LINE: In the busyness of life and ministry, don't forget your Primary Objectives, because one thing is for sure: your Enemy won't.

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