It may just be that I am a giant dork, but I love to play Risk on my iPhone and iPad. Whenever I have a few down moments in my day, I find myself in an intense battle for world domination on my phone, and I love the nights when students and leaders from our Youth Group get together and play the board game for real.
What I love about Risk is that there is strategy involved, and I’ve been thinking about how the strategic kind of correlate to Leadership strategies.
When you play Risk, the main two strategies people take are to go for land right away, or to stockpile troops off the bat (the number 1 strategy is to hold Australia, but there isn’t much application from that).
So inevitably, someone on the board will start out with their starting territories and spread their troops evenly throughout these territories, and then start attacking until they can’t attack anymore. You can look down at the board after their turn and it might look like they are winning, because momentarily they control the most territories, but I don’t think I have ever seen someone win a game who used this strategy.
At the same time, there will be someone on the board who gets their starting territories but puts all of their troops in just one country. From here, they will attack one territory per turn, just doing enough to get a RISK card and not over-extending themselves. They will sit back and wait for the perfect moment to attack, and usually, this person is able to wipe out everyone on the board in a matter of moves, but only if they wait.
As I thought about this the other day, a conversation I had led me to an even simpler version of this same sort of principle, and it too has to do with Board Games.
A friend of mine essentially said there are two types of people in the world, those who play Chess, and those who play checkers. Now Chess players can play checkers and vice versa, but at the end of the day, they are two different types of players.
In Checkers, there isn’t much strategy. When you make your moves in Checkers, there doesn’t need to be quite as much thought behind it, you are looking at this move in this moment and how it can benefit you at this point in time.
In Chess, every move you make needs to set you up for future moves. Even moving your first pawn can dictate what the outcome of the entire game will be depending on how much strategy you are moving it with. If you play Chess with a checkers mindset, you are going to be quite frustrated when you keep losing.
All of that to say, in Ministry, we need both. There needs to be someone who is a Chess player who is able to plan out the vision for the Ministry, lay out the direction it is headed in. Yet, a fault of Youth Pastors with this Big Picture mindset is that it can be very hard to come down from the 35,000 foot view of things to the 300 foot view and see all the details. There needs to be someone in your ministry who is more of a Checkers mindset, because the two really need to balance each other out.
So what game do you play as a leader?