Skill Ranked Up
By Anthony Casperson

We who’ve played RPGs of various kinds are used to the idea of our characters’ skills increasing as they level up. Perception, lockpicking, armor class, magic/mana, and specific weapons wielded by the character. It shows how a person that has such skills will tend toward getting better along the way.

But how the skill ranks up happens different ways depending on the game system. Some systems have them just automatically rank up along with the levels. You chose them to start with and the system assumes that you’re gonna use them. Other systems allow you to rank up a certain number of skills at every level up and you can choose where to place the increase. It’s up to you, based off of what need you currently see is needed.

However, a system that is represented by the Elder Scrolls video games shows one that’s more in line with increasing skills in the real world (even if it’s not my personal favorite method). Skills only increase as you use them.

If you wanna get better at archery, you’d best pull out a bow and shoot a bunch of arrows. Sure, you’ll miss a lot—and need to pay for many quivers worth of arrows—but the day will come when the skill is so high that the character will rarely miss. The same thing is true for sneaking, athletics, the schools of magic, etc. To get better, you gotta use it.

One place where it seems the most frustrating is in ranking up the armor skills. It’s not dodging that increases the specific armor, but rather getting hit. We have to get hit in order to learn how to take the hit. Pain and tribulation is often a good tutor.

Like I said, this isn’t my favorite method of ranking up skills. I really prefer the automatic rank up so that I just keep getting better at what I want to be good at.

Unfortunately, I often want the real world to work that way too. And I’m sure I’m not alone. The need for discipline through using the skills and abilities that we each have is often annoying, boring, and time-consuming. Yet it is worth it because in our world, that is the only way to rank up our skills. Put in the time and effort.

And one place that we followers of Jesus often need to be reminded of this truth is in our spiritual lives. If we wanna know the bible better, we gotta spend time reading, meditating, and even memorizing. (I know that last one might have gotta a gasp or two.) And the same is true for sharing our faith, encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ, and understanding/applying basic theological principles.

Sure, we’ll suck at it to begin with. Everybody does. But the point is that we won’t ever get better unless we try to use these skills. Over and over again. There is no automatic spiritual rank up after coming to Jesus.

I think that the author of the book of Hebrews put it best at the end of chapter 5. They say in verses 13-14 that those who don’t dive deeply into the truth of God are unskilled—like a child even, who can’t help but need the milk of God’s truth. It’s only those who have had their powers of discernment trained by constant practice that can distinguish truth from a lie.

Notice those three important words there. By constant practice. If you wanna rank up the skill, then you gotta use it. That’s the only way to grow spiritually.

Paul seconds and thirds this idea in 1 Cor. 9:25-27 and 1 Timothy 4:6-8. Discipline and training in righteousness are valuably good things for us spiritually. They give us purpose in what to do as we grow. And it’ll aid us not only in this present life, but the one to come.

These skills pass on to the “New Game +” of the Kingdom of God. It’s not ever a waste.

Let’s consider the spiritual skills and abilities that we wish we could be better at. And then use them. Fail at them even. Over and over again. It’s through attempting to use the skill that ranking them up is possible.

Then when we really need the skill, it’ll be there ready to succeed. But only because we used it so many times before.

And let us not forget that succeeding doesn’t mean the end of our skills’ rank ups—or even the end of occasional failure—because there’s always another level ahead of us. Spiritual life has no level cap.