Raiding and The Book of Job   20 comments

Caveat: This post is somewhat unorthodox in that it is actually a repost of something that I posted for my guild today on our forums. We have had, arguably, two of our best nights working on heroic Rag – yet everyone’s morale (including mine) seems to be tanked. Because of that, I spent a lot of time last night thinking. And, ultimately, this is what came out of those thoughts. The reason that I’ve reposted it here, is because I am somewhat fascinated with the fact that of everything else – this is where my brain made a connection. And I think the topic and similarities in and of themselves are extremely interesting. As such, I thought it was something that a lot of my readers would enjoy and would spark a fair bit of conversation, which in turn I think would be equally as fascinating. I am very much looking forward to everyone’s thoughts. However, since standing alone it may read a little strangely, I thought that adding context was important.

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I am not an overly religious person, but at some point in my education I was tasked with reading a play called J.B.. It is exceptionally good, if you are interested in it, and I believe it even won a Pulitzer prize. Anyhow, the play is essentially a modern day version of The Book of Job, which consequently I was also tasked with reading.

Right about now, you are probably wondering why the fuck I am bringing this up, and exactly what does it have to do with raiding. Well, I’ll get there. Eventually.

The Book of Job

As I said above, I’m not really a very religious person, but the story of Job really resonated with me and is something that has provoked many of my thoughts and outlooks. The Beru’s notes (I’m trademarking that shit as soon as I’m done typing this…) version of the story goes something like this (please forgive me any missteps that I may have in my retelling of the story, and note that I’m not going to go into much of the theological debate surrounding the story, as I’m hardly qualified to do so):

Job is an incredibly pious man. Satan comes to God and theorizes that the only reason that Job is as devout as he is, is because God has afforded him many luxuries in life and Job has never really known hardship. Satan and God have a debate about it, and eventually Satan asks God if he can prove his point by testing Job. God agrees to permit it. Over time Satan, with God’s blessing, takes away everything that Job had and cared about – his family, his livelihood, his home. Job’s wife pleaded with Job to forsake a God who could be so cruel, and yet Job was unmoving in his beliefs and devotion.

Not to be undone, Satan asks God permission to smite Job’s health as well. God agrees, stating only that Satan may not kill Job. Job is afflicted with horrible boils, and yet still will not denounce God. Eventually Job sits alone, suffering. In time he is visited by three friends (there is much theological debate over what these three represent, but I’ll let someone else get into that). After much talk, the three friends sit in silence with Job for seven days, seeing that he is suffering. In all this time, Job never resents God. He never rebukes God. But he does start to wonder how he can speak to God, so that he might better understand God’s intent.

In time Job breaks the silence – yet still does not curse God. Rather he curses the day that he was born – to which God appears to him and finally speaks (again, theological interpretation left to someone more qualified). God tells Job that he is disappointed in him, and that Job does not understand creation. Job is never made aware that God’s conversations with Satan are the source of his overwhelming grief. However, in the end Job is humbled by God and repents.

Don’t worry too much about Job – Having proven Satan wrong, God restores Job. Giving him back his health, a new family and more wealth than he had known before. Job lived a long, happy life until his death, living to see the fourth generation of his family and dying at the ripe old age of 140 or so.

In short – you know that saying “God won’t give us more than we can handle”? I’ve often wondered if the book of Job is where it spawned from.

Job and Raiding

Now, I’m sure this next statement is debatable, and I’m no theologian, however I tend to believe that it wasn’t necessarily God that restored Job, but rather it was Job’s faith in God that did. His faith that God wouldn’t dump more shit on him than he could handle. His faith that he was a part of an unknown plan, and that it wasn’t his place to question that. His blind hope that in the end everything was going to play out as it was intended. And, honestly, there is a part of me that thinks in addition to faith, Job represent hope. I know this may be somewhat far fetched, but in my mind, in my interpretation, Job [i]is[/i] hope. Now, I’m not going to sermon – as I said above, I’m not an overly religious person. But I do think it’s important to recognize God’s role in relation to Job.

This is getting a little heavy, let’s change gears here a little bit, shall we?

Every time that I encounter a challenge in my life that I feel overwhelms me, I’m reminded of J.B. and subsequently Job. And invariably that makes me stop and think. Ultimately I never ask myself why I’m being presented with these particular challenges, but rather I hope that I can find the strength to survive them. But even more than that, I question if I am able to survive them without losing part of who I am and what I believe in the process. In essence I don’t want to become a cold and jaded person. I want to hold on to hope, because it’s a valuable commodity that once it’s lost can never be replaced. In the vernacular, I try to believe that what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger and all that jazz.

Let’s loop this back around to raiding shall we?

Raiding is all about meeting and overcoming challenges. I also think that oftentimes it is when people are pushed (tested) the hardest, that we start to see the worst that people have to offer. Part of what makes challenging encounters so challenging isn’t necessarily the encounter in and of itself, but rather navigating through the way many different ways that diverse personalities behave when faced with something that seems insurmountable. When you hear “X encounter is a guild killer” – no it’s not. It’s true that it’s the stress that the encounter placed on the guild was a contributing factor, but when push comes to shove, it was the way in which the team dealt with that stress (or didn’t, as it may be) that killed the guild.

Stress and tension often makes people behave in ways that they may not otherwise behave. This is true in any aspect of life.

In the end though, it’s how we channel these tensions and stresses that define us. As people, and as a guild. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that you are frustrated. In fact, I think that it’s a healthy thing to do. But it’s a very fine line to walk, because it’s very easy to cross over that line and let your stresses and tensions become unproductive. If this happens often enough, you then find yourself in a position that you are causing just as much harm to the raid (if not more) as things that are frustrating you.

What does not kill us makes us stronger.

Let’s go back to Job now. I’m sure I will offend at lest one person in this analogy, and for that I sincerely apologize, but please bear with me – I truly mean no disrespect.

In a raid setting, a guild (or raid team) falls into the shoes of Job. And, for purposes of analogy, a boss or zone, are the challenges that Satan has thrown at you. And, I suppose, that would put Blizzard (or whatever developer) into the role of God. While the underlying tenants of the reason Job is given challenges are not necessarily the same for a raid, I do think that there are some similarities to be seen between how a raid chooses to overcome challenges and how Job suffered his challenges.

Let’s explore that a little bit.

When things get hard, like the 375th pull of Heroic Rag for example, what will define us as a team is how we handle our disappointments and struggles. Do we snipe at each other and work against each other in doing so or do we look at how far we’ve come despite all of the challenges put in front of us? Do we ridicule people weaker than we are when they are struggling or do we offer out a hand to help pick them up and encourage them to keep trying? Do we forsake hope and wallow only in what we haven’t accomplished or do we look at what we have accomplished and keep our hearts light as we walk down a difficult road? In thinking about that, ask yourself what would have happened to Job if he hadn’t held steadfast to his beliefs. What if he had listened to his wife? What if he had given up when his family was ripped from him? What if he hadn’t remained strong in his convictions?

I know that I can’t answer those questions, and I’m not going to try. But what I can tell you is that one of the reasons that J.B. and Job stuck with me almost two decades later is because their resolve stayed with me. Almost two decades after learning of Job’s (and J.B.’S) struggles, when things get hard I can still draw on the strength that they showed. I still try (and often fail) to be the person that Job was when faced with insurmountable challenges. Why? Because when push comes to shove, I don’t want to know what happens if Job fails the test. I want to believe that hard work, patience and faith that everything will fall into place are good values. I want to believe that even through the most challenging times resolve and dedication will persevere. I want to believe that no matter how seemingly insurmountable the challenge placed in front of me is, I can and will overcome it.

Last night I was told that my flaw was that I tried too hard. That I put in too much of my energy to make things happen. That I couldn’t single handedly make people want to be better.

But the truth is that I don’t know how to do anything less.

This expansion has tried every guild that has pushed through it, and no one has been unscathed. At the end of the day, I don’t really think a fancy Firelord, Dragonslayer or Light of Dawn title is the true reward for crossing the finish line. I think the knowledge of the resolve of the people that made it that far and the fact that they overcame such adversity to get there is far more rewarding. The fact that they persevered and didn’t let go of their resolve says a lot more about them than any title ever could.

The past few weeks things have been hard, last night I sat up well past my bedtime with tears of frustration trying to figure out if I was strong enough to keep doing this, and in doing so I took the time to reflect back. I took the time to think about Job. And what I came out with was a reminder that what doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger. I came out with the reminder that it’s extraordinarily hard to stick to your beliefs and foundations when things get hard, but that you will be a stronger person if you do.

It is my hope that this doesn’t kill me. It is my hope that it doesn’t kill my ideals, beliefs and faith in all of you. It is my hope that I don’t let other people bring me down and make me forget the foundations of what make me strong. But most of all it is my hope that others will read this and will also take a minute to think, and that perhaps they, too, will come out with a different perspective as a result, and that will make us all stronger.

Posted November 4, 2011 by Beruthiel in Deep Thoughts, Hard Modes, Raid Leadership, Raiding

20 responses to “Raiding and The Book of Job

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  1. Excellent article, Beru, very thoughtful, well put, and thought-provoking. I have no idea how anyone could be offended by your analogy, either, as it IS an accurate analogy. The Blizz development team IS God as far as Azeroth goes. They created everything about it, the rules of how it works with all its challenges for us. I think you also hit the nail on the head on what propels people to these herculean tasks. So you can look back and say, “I set this as my goal and I did this and I am stronger for it.”

    The one part that does not translate in this analogy is the faith. It is not faith in Blizz or ‘God’ that sustains you through your trials. It is faith in yourself and your team is what gives you the ability to continue through these hundreds of pulls. I want you to remember this on those never-ending nights when you are tired and in tears from frustration and more pulls not ending in the kill. You have set this as your goal, you and all the others you raid with. You have faith in them and they have faith in you and together you will sustain each other and work through until you see that goal fulfilled. And as you said, you will be stronger for it. As a person, as a team, and as a guild. :)

    • I guess when I was writing it I never really thought about the faith component much. And perhaps that was a mistake. You are right, it is the faith in myself and my team mates that should represent the aspect of faith. As for people being offended, I think it’s risky to bring any form of religion into a conversation without offending someone, even if you don’t mean any harm. I dare say that is the nature of religion, and why there have been so many wars in history where religion is the root.

      Regardless, for me Job will always have meaning. But I think it would be folly to think that the meaning I took from the story will match everyone else’s. :)

  2. great article!

  3. I must admit I have always struggled with the story of Job. To my mind it always seems as if God effectively tortures Job at Satan behest for no reason other than to satisfy a bet. This doesn’t fit with the image of God I was taught at school. Having said that I’m not religious at all so I am not sure how valid my opinions on this are.

    Regarding heroic Rag progress I feel your pain we are a couple of weeks behind you having just started reaching phase 4 with any consistency and increasingly I feel that the challenge of the boss is the internal struggle against yourself that every raid member must go through to keep positive and keep focused for weeks of wipe nights. As a raidleader I have decided my primary role is to maintain everyone’s morale to this end I have asked my officers to ensure they keep it light and tell jokes in breaks and when running back (assuming we aren’t discussing tactics) and I make sure to make a big deal out of every bit of progress we make even if its just “great job we didn’t use any battle resses to get to p4″ or “thats an extra 1% knocked off getting there!”. I can only hope that these things will keep everyone’s morale high enough that we will kill raggy before 4.3 because if we don’t I suspect I will find it much harder to motivate people for the next seemingly insurmountable challenge.

    Good luck I am sure you will kill raggy before he finished off you and your team.

    • I think a lot of people struggle with the story of Job. I think part of the reason that I came feeling the way I did about it is because I read about Job in the context of literature first, and then had time to think about how I felt it fell into my faith. And I came to that decision of my own accord, and it wasn’t colored with other opinions. I might be wrong on that, but I know that you aren’t alone is struggling with coming to terms with The Book of Job.

      With regards to Rag, I wish you the best of luck! It’s really hard sometimes to stay positive, so I will send good thoughts your way!

  4. Thank you for writing that article. I love this paragraph, “Do we snipe at each other and work against each other in doing so or do we look at how far we’ve come despite all of the challenges put in front of us? Do we ridicule people weaker than we are when they are struggling or do we offer out a hand to help pick them up and encourage them to keep trying? Do we forsake hope and wallow only in what we haven’t accomplished or do we look at what we have accomplished and keep our hearts light as we walk down a difficult road?” It reminds me to help rather than admonish; to look at what our group has accomplished rather than highlight our temporary shortcomings.

    • I suppose in short, that paragraph there could sum up a lot of what I was feeling when I wrote this post. Of course…you had to get through like 1500 other words before getting to that part, but a look at those values was at the heart of what I was feeling.

  5. I just noticed your guild killed Heroic Ragnaros. Congratulations! =)

  6. MEGA GRATZ. Awesome, awesome stuff. I hope you are feeling on top of the world after all that hard work. Firelord Beru!!!

  7. Reading about you making yourself cry over a game made me feel physically sick, this was a horrible, horrible article and I feel incredibly sorry for you.

    I don’t want to be a downer, but you really should take some time to think about whether this was actually worth it, and whether you should put yourself through this again next time around. Just becasue it didn’t kill you, doesn’t mean it made you stronger, it can break you and leave you broken, and you won’t know which it will do until you get there. Even if it does make you stronger, not everybody needs to be that strong.

    But if you do end up being happy, then you have my most sincere congratulations.

    • Phil -

      Something perhaps you should know about me…I cry at commercials. You know those feel good ones during the olympics? Yea…Brade has to change the channel. I tend to let my emotions pent up until I have no choice but to let them escape. I don’t think shedding tears of frustration, anger or hurt is a bad thing. I think it’s a natural reaction for a lot of people. Some people scream, holler, throw things (not that I haven’t been known to do at least one of the above) and some people take a softer emotional approach to dealing with their anxieties. I don’t know why people so often feel that this show of emotion is so terrible.

      In the end, I question if what I am doing is worth it frequently. Both to myself, to Brade and sometimes to guild mates. And the truth of the matter is that at the end of the day the answer is always “yes”, otherwise I wouldn’t still be doing it ^.^

  8. I feel I’ve got to speak up for those of us you did offend, just like you predicted.

    Just two weeks ago you posted about how this fight made you want to kick kittens and how you’d call bullshit on everyone who told you he enjoyed the fight after 400 pulls. Yet you serve us the exact same bovine excrement, wrapped in an analogy that backfires almost immediately on closer inspection.

    Job’s story is the ancient equivalent of a splatter horror, in that it’s “ok” for half the cast to be gruesomely mutilated just for the main character to survive the ordeal at the end. Where are Job’s servants and children in your story? Where are your team mates that didn’t handle the pressure or didn’t have the computer to survive seed lags? Where were all the ret pallys, resto shamans etc before the hardmode nerfs? Did they get stronger for sitting the bench that 1% harder? Would they have killed the boss with more faith?

    Keeping your guild morale up and not going insane yourself is a tremendous accomplishment, you don’t need religious themes for that to be proud of. But don’t forget that those around you don’t exist to serve as collateral damage to make some story work.

    • I guess I’m a little confused by your commentary. Not once in this article did I say that I enjoyed this fight. Not once did I say I think it was good game design. (Did you read through all of the article?).

      The commentary that I offered was more a look at how people, and more specifically me, approach challenges they are confronted with. It’s how the react when things overwhelm them. It had little to do, per se, with faith and more to do with people’s reactions to challenging times. It’s clear from your comments that you and I have very different perceptions of the story of Job, and took very different things from it. And that’s fine.

      However, to think that I think of anyone as “collateral damage” shows that you don’t know me very well. If you did, you’d know that I took every person we lost on the way as a personal failure on my part. I questioned myself for days about what could have been done differently, or if it was truly that person’s time to go. I felt bad for every member of our raid team that wasn’t in the raid for the first kill. So please don’t sit there, behind your computer chair, and puport to lecture me on things that you don’t know about.

      If you were truly offended in my references to Job, then you have my sincere apologies.

    • Hi, Random Internet Stranger!

      Speaking as one of the “supporting cast” with a shitty CPU (protip: turning off EVERYTHING in your UI still doesn’t help much) and a habit of standing in the fire I think you’re maybe looking at this (and perhaps at Job) in a strange light. I don’t think any of us ever felt that we were there to make Beru’s personal narrative more compelling.

  9. Congrats on the kill!

    It’s always interesting to see the types of responses that come up when you introduce religion. People will argue or passionately debate the merit and follies of a religious perspective, it will always make for an interesting read.

    Congrats on the kill again! All it takes is a pull where everything clicks~you don’t plan for it,it just happens!

    First kills are always the hardest – enjoy your shorter raid weeks and off nights!

    • Thanks!

      The interesting things about religion is that everyone is effected in different ways by different things. For me, I didn’t learn about Job until I was old enough to be able to look at it analytically. And on that same note, I took it from a literary, not a religious, perspective. Which, to an extent, means that I got to form my own opinions on things and not have another’s opinions color mine. Anyhow, I certainly found it all very interesting!

      I am most definitely looking forward to some down time between now and 4.3 :)

      • The amazing thing about the the Book of Job (and heck most literary works) is how life experience can influence and affect a persons interpretation of the narrative.

        The pros/cons of religion aside there is a lot of depth to the bible in general because of the many different writers over the centuries that contributed to it. Imagine ‘The Lord of the Rings’ if it was written over the span of several thousand years~I shudder to think of the movie implications!

  10. One of the reasons I hate RSS is that it makes me just as lazy as people that don’t comment on things they should.

    First, congrats on the Rag kill again :)

    Second, I wanted to say that this post meant a lot to me. I am not too religious, but I do respect how you took something so positive about Job and applied it to your understanding of life. I had been also dealing with something not WoW related and in a way this helped out with it. So thanks!

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