As we pick up our RPG simulation once again, we want to briefly discuss the four decks of game play cards we have imagined: the starting deck, our superpower; then, the intent of action deck, our mode of operation deck, and our help deck. So far in our sim, we have drawn a card from the starting deck to find out if we are a giver or a receiver. We have recorded that as our power and the inverse as our weakness, such that the strong givers are weak receivers, and the strong receivers are weak givers. We have a lot more to add on that, but let us first look ahead to what the other three decks have in store.
The next card we’ll draw is our intent of action. Again, we will find only two possibilities: MATERIAL and SPIRITUAL. This will put a filter on our superpower. We can be material givers, material receivers, spiritual givers, or spiritual receivers. (Don’t worry… this game goes quickly, so you can play it enough times to experience all of the variables without having to commit to a lifetime of game play as only one or the other. If only real life were that simple… but then, that is why we have this game.)
The two decks off to the side will come into play as the game progresses. We use the first round just to practice examples of giving and receiving with our assigned intent. After the introductory round ends, we get to choose from the next deck, which tells us our mode of operation: CONNECTION or SELF-PRESERVATION. These concepts are familiar to our regular readers, but we will consider them in light of our role play and discuss how they impact the game with each variable we have mentioned. Finally, we have the fourth deck, from which we draw our help. No surprise – this, too, is a binary choice. We are assigned either SELF-HELP or MENTOR. We will get into this in more detail as well.
That is essentially the game. We can always add in settings, such as school or family or workplace, but the ideas at play will not change all that much. Hopefully, the implications and game play are fairly obvious at the outset.
As we mentioned last week, this may not be the most captivating RPG, but it is remarkably helpful in forming and illustrating our missionary mindset. Believe it or not, the point of all of this is to help ourselves become more aware of some very crucial variables in our personalities and our relationships which might be impediments to our spiritual health. It is not a personality type test or a diagnostic tool for one problem or another. It is not a cleverly disguised way to pigeonhole people, and it will never be completely accurate 100% of the time. People are people, not simulations, and we should keep our expectations focused on the living, breathing happenings of each moment – not on assumptions, rules or scripts. We like the simplicity of a simulation because it gives us an opportunity to imagine and think, and perhaps to gain insight into things we ordinarily take for granted.
Back, then, to our first deck. Which did you draw, or which did you imagine yourself to be ordinarily? Are you primarily a Giver, or a Receiver? Did you add in a dice roll to determine the intensity? How did you arrive at your choice? Was it based on what you believe about yourself, or how other people react to you? Are there some of us who still do not quite know?
For explanatory purposes, “Givers” here are people who take initiative in offering things. These are people who seem to anticipate the needs of others, who volunteer as soon as the call for help goes out, and who surprise you with visits, acts of kindness, contributions and boundless ideas. On the flip side, “Receivers” are known both in the welcoming sense and in their facility with detecting and interpreting signals. Receivers are the people you go to when you have something weighing on your mind, or when you have a joy to share, or when you want the company of someone extremely easy to be around. In fact, these people seem to “get” you better than anyone else, and are the most loyal among the people you have ever known… even if you barely know them.
If you added in the dice roll, you’ll also have a number that shows how intensely you express your superpower. The higher your super-value, the greater will the difference be in the intensity of your inverse. The value for your superpower ranges from two to 12, and the value for your weakness is your super-value subtracted from fourteen. If you are a super-giver at a power of 12, your receiving power is two; giving dominates your receiving by ten points. If you are a super-receiver of 8, your giving capability is six. Some get a lucky seven and are proportionally balanced.
(Got all that?)
It may take a lot of pondering before you realize which profile fits you better. The dynamics of your relationships can be deceiving. For instance, you might think at first you are a Giver… until you realize that others in your life consistently take from you, without much initiative on your part. Surprise! That makes you a Receiver! Others may call themselves Receivers based on the number of gatherings they host at their home, with refreshments and activities… hmm… does that makes them Givers? Then there are people who assume being extroverts means being default Givers. Is that true? Not necessarily.
Suddenly, the line between Giver and Receiver looks awfully blurry.
Perhaps we should look at the inverse. Will that help?
If you are someone who is slower to initiate interactions… someone who waits to be spoken to, or who follows the lead of others… someone who “brings up the rear” in line… someone who is still assessing the situation after others have begun taking action… if you feel reluctant, quiet or awkward…
… these are ways people criticize you for not being a Giver.
Yet, each of these traits is an asset if you are a Receiver. Especially that last one, feeling awkward – because you know what it’s like to feel out of place, and chances are, you go out of your way to make sure other people don’t have to endure that. The other traits speak to wisdom, prudence and care in listening.
If you believe you are a Receiver because you pride yourself in constantly scanning for needs… or because you check on the people around you, shrugging off anyone checking on you… or because you make yourself available 24/7 and insist people take you up on that… or because you are ready with suggestions and solutions for any situation…
… Guess what? You are a Giver!
This is getting too complicated. We need a simple definition, and fast.
Here it is.
Most generally speaking, Givers initiate, and Receivers anticipate. But we cannot know until we interact with others.
Please – remember – this is not a personality test. It is a game.
One, we hope, which will help you know your strengths… and needs… as our Missionaries.
Because we cannot embrace our needs until we know them.
PRAY: Heavenly Father, help me to know how others experience me. Do I greet more people on Your behalf, as Your ambassador – or do I more easily receive You as a guest, through them?
CONTEMPLATE: How comfortable am I in realizing my weak area in this game? Do I feel this way because of what I think, or because of what others have said to me? Would God see it this way? How would others respond if I plainly said, “Can you help me become a better __(Giver/Receiver)_____ ?”
RELATE: Continue observing your typical patterns. Are you more likely to initiate (act first) or anticipate (assess and wait before acting) in your interactions? Are you finding yourself surprised?
May the power of Divine Love shine in and through my weakness, so that He might be glorified in and through me, and that in my weakness, His power may reach perfection. Through Christ Our Lord, AMEN.
Fr. Mark P. Nolette - Spiritual Director for the Mission of Saint Thorlak