Today I played one of my favorite new games as a Chaplain.
Have you ever heard of the game Pokémon GO?
Who am I kidding, who HASN’T heard of Pokémon GO by now? But for the one or two of you that may not have…
Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game that blends together the world that we can touch and see with a digital world within our devices. You play Pokémon GO through interaction within the real world. As you walk with the app open on your device, a map of your environment is on the screen. The pursuit of the game is to catch Pokémon that are hiding within real-world maps. As you encounter Pokémon you can see them on your screen digitally imposed in the real world and it is your job to catch them.
The technology is actually pretty nifty.
As a chaplain for an organization that has a very wide geographical spread I’ve created my own version of ‘chaplaincy Pokémon GO’.
One of the tools available to me within my chaplaincy is Geotab, an app that allows me to look at a map and see where all of the service vehicles are within our region. In my version of Pokémon GO, I load the map and look for any squares that are around me (I learned to ignore the triangles…they are moving targets I will never catch).
Once I find a ‘Pokémon’ *ahem, team member* within range I allow my NASCAR nature to take over and race to the square before they complete whatever job they are on. Abiding by every local traffic law, of course!
I win when I make it there before our team member has finished the job and moved on to the next. I lose when there is no Lee Company vehicle to be found.
I actually keep a list in my truck of “Pokémon” I’ve caught. Hopefully one day I will be able to say I’ve caught them all!
Why do I love playing my ‘game’ so much?
There is something meaningful and important about going to where people are.
When Jesus directed his disciples to be on a co-mission with Him through the Great Commission; Jesus told them to GO. It was an active mission, rather than a passive one. A mission that required presence.
Teaching requires presence. Discipleship requires presence. Baptism requires presence. And presence is achieved through pursuit.
There is this great parable that Jesus shared that is recored in Luke 15.
Jesus spoke of a shepherd who was tending to 100 sheep and one of them became wayward. The shepherd walked away from the 99 safe sheep, leaving them in open land, to pursue the one that was lost from the fold.
That the other 99 sheep weren’t secured speaks to the value of the one that was wayward. That the one lost sheep was worth the risk.
That the one lost sheep was worth going after.
From God’s mission, to Jesus and the Great Commission, it’s all about the sending of God to man.
As a chaplain, I have both the honor and the responsibility of going to people where they are, every day. To be present and to spend time with them. To show them or remind them that they matter to God. Leaving the security of the 99 who are in the fold and seeking out to spend time with the 1 who is out.
While an important element of chaplaincy is response to individual needs; chaplaincy is also a ministry of presence and sometimes presence requires pursuit.
With all of that said, please hear this…people are not projects. People are people, both created in God’s image and deeply loved by Him. Our role is to love God, but to also love others as we love other selves.
It’s hard to love people if you don’t spend time with people.
Go out and chase some Pokémon; it will be time well invested.