Biblical Example of Tilting and Mental Booms

Imagine holding one of those classic kaleidoscopes to your eye while a baby is babbling incessantly in the background. The colors. The movement. The unrecognizable shapes. Language you don’t understand.  That’s what it was like watching my first League of Legends game play video.  Five minutes with a League video was all I needed.

League’s Tilting and Mental Booms Can Be Leveraged for God

But it’s all good, because I’m only using League as a gateway into a conversation about repentance, obedience, and salvation through references to the game play vernacular of tilting and mental booms. For this I don’t need to understand League in any kind of detail.  (But if you do want to understand it better, read this League game description.)

Having seen League once and hearing about tilting and mental booms, I had enough to open a conversation about a teen’s game play experience. Do you know a League player or someone who watches game play videos about League?  Does anything they ever say about League elicit in you a memory of something described in the Bible? It did for me; I thought of Jonah.

What is Tilting and Mental Boom?

I have heard that playing League is emotional and stressful.  A player may find himself “tilting,” or losing his composure, when things don’t go his way. Once he is then “taxed or exhausted to the point where [his] decision making becomes compromised,” he is “mental boomed.”  Being mental boomed, his performance is typically negatively affected.  He may no longer care if he wins or not.  Teammates, worried about losing the game, may become anxious about his game play.

Those common gaming terms are effective segues into similar concepts or examples in the Bible.  In this case, where in the Bible have characters “tilted”?  Use your imagination—and your teen’s—to introduce comparisons between his game play and his Bible knowledge. He may not naturally connect League to anything he has heard at church, but there’s no reason you can’t show him a connection.

Jonah Tilted Until He Went Full Mental Boom

Didn’t Jonah tilt in fear when he felt threatened by having to preach in notorious Nineveh? The fear compromised his decision making, and he had a mental boom: He fled to Tarshish to hide from God’s request.  He had forgotten 2 Tim 1:7.

The fuller story is that Jonah was a prophet whom God asked to preach to the very large city of Nineveh. He was to encourage them to turn away from their wicked, murderous ways. Jonah was to exhort them to repent and be saved from God’s wrath.

Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. And he didn’t really want Nineveh to be saved, because he hated and feared this enemy. Jonah tilted so far at this request that he bolted.  He ended up in a boat on the sea, fleeing in the opposite direction of Nineveh.

Jonah’s Phone Died

Although Jonah sailed away, some fearful seamen threw him overboard. Jonah himself felt God had “hurled him into the deep” (v 2:3). That’s where the very well-known, very large fish swallowed him. So, his mental boom was to flee from his God-ordained assignment. It gave him some thinking time in the belly of a fish. “The currents were swirling around him” (v. 2:3). “Seaweed was wrapped around his head” (v. 2:5). He had a sad, momentary thought that it would have made a decent TikTok video. Alas, his iPhone had died. (Release the tension of your ‘instruction’ with an unexpected anachronism like this last point.)

With nothing else to do, Jonah prayed (v. 2:1). He knew that only God could hear his cry and rescue him.  And God did. But when the fish spat him out, God again instructed him to go to Nineveh.  This time Jonah didn’t tilt. He didn’t lose his composure and run away out of fear.  He obeyed God and told the people there to repent. And they did. Because of their repentance God was compassionate, and He didn’t destroy Nineveh for its wickedness.

Key Takeaways from This Biblical Connection

Jonah learned obedience from that experience. (And that he should avoid schadenfreude.) Jonah was instead to be concerned with people who weren’t living godly lives. He should help people repent and be saved. And to do it in the power of God, without all the tilting and mental booming.

 The Bible is about real life (as well as the supernatural life). Learning Bible narratives helps you to show your teen how pertinent the Bible is to his life. You can use humor and anachronisms to help your listener stay tuned in.  Ultimately, the connections you offer will help him draw his own connections through time.  And that will lead him through this game of life—if not League of Legends—and help him gain biblical insight.

Setting the Stage for Parent-Teen Communication

What, Mom? (With headphones on, leaning back, still focused on his screen.)

What has your son heard you say and is still hearing?  Your voice, muffled. You, speaking muffledly. Then more muffledly, only louder. Keep it up, and he’ll hear you most muffledly and likely most loudly! That’s not a good start to whatever you were hoping to communicate–and respect is on the line.

Respectful parent-teen communication begins with setting the stage for real listening.  But the stage in this case needs the props removed—computer screen, mobile phone, headphones—so you can start a dialogue in a way that encourages real listening. And as a result, you will teach your teen conversational skills that respect you and others.

The alternative is likely misunderstanding. Or, because you’re not feeling heard and he’s feeling aggravated about losing his flow, an argument could easily erupt. But not the classical kind of argument in which there’s an exchange of ideas and support for those ideas. Rather, the whiny kind, the negative kind, or the angry kind.

There are ways to interrupt your child on technology that don’t cause him to feel his work or even play is disrespected. (After all, he may have worked hard for that online ‘play’ time.)  A word fitly spoken is an essential bridge moving a dialogue toward persuasiveness and understanding.

In managing online time, teach your child to listen well to you. You are also teaching them to respect you. And then patiently respect your child in return. The communication methods and respect you model within the home is what your child will likely apply outside of it. We are to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord and to teach them to obey us as parents. Meanwhile, we remember that if we’re showing the fruit of the Spirit, we will be showing them patient and kind instruction out of love for them.

Parent-Teen Communication Without a Screen in Between

So, don’t compete with a screen in between you. Or with headphones that are meant to eliminate ambient noise–you, in this case.  Take the lead to avoid this interference, because your teen probably won’t–and will more likely see you as the interference.  Help your teen learn how to listen and to make more effective arguments by teaching them to first disengage from technology. Tap his shoulder (if he can’t hear you through his headphones). Say “Let’s talk a minute” or “I need you now.” After you’ve made clear the need to talk, offer him a few seconds to break away from the technical task in front of him.  Proverbs 15 reminds us “a patient man calms a quarrel.”

Help Your Teen Listen

Most online activities involve a process. If you allow him to be online, it’s not fair to interrupt that at your every inclination. He can’t abruptly stop this process without error, aggravation, insult to an online team member, loss of one’s train of thought, or data loss.  You can respect your teen by forewarning him of your need to discuss something and then allowing him a moment to ‘get into position.’

Now disengaged from technology, he can better listen to what you have to say. And he’ll be able to reply without distraction. Instead of appearing to deign to give you his time, he may be more fully attentive, a sign of respect. You are teaching him to love through actions, not just words.

Both of you now fully present, a polite, clear and logical “argument” can commence. You have helped him listen under authority–a useful habit for his long-term good. And quality, respectful parent-teen communication may prevent unintentional disobedience resulting from misunderstanding.

So, take control of your relationship through better communication methods. Insist your teen first be free from distraction.  Only then can a full discussion–or argument–be most productive.

And when your teen questions why he should have to take out the garbage today, you can look deeply into his eyes and give your most cogent argument:  Because I said so.

Samson over Master Chief

Maybe you have a child who is dolefully lurking in your vicinity. He begrudgingly said goodnight to Master Chief in Halo: Infinite after your third request. Could you turn this into a moment to help him gain a smidgen of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom—biblically speaking?

Master Chief is a strong “supersoldier” with telescopic vision, as you may know from your child’s long hours of videogaming. You consider which strong men of the Bible you know, and Samson comes to mind (Judges 13-16).

It’s time to engage.

Talkin’ ’bout the Bible: Samson

“So, you play as Master Chief when you play Halo, don’t you?” you ask.
“Yeah,” your child answers.
“He’s a hero, right? With strength, fighting skills, and even telescopic vision?”
“Do you remember any heroes like that in the Bible?”
“No. Aren’t they all, like, just quiet men who think about God?”

(Simplify—or give greater nuance and complexity—to this sample dialogue depending on your child’s age, maturity, and Bible knowledge.)

“Actually, the Bible describes a strong warrior and judge named Samson who was dedicated to God. God gave him supernatural strength. That’s because he had a mission to do. The Bible says ‘He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines’ (Judges 13:5b).”

He’s beginning to hear, “Blah, blah, blah.” So, you ask another question.

Keep His Interest

“Do you get to choose what kinds of missions you play through as Master Chief?”

(He’s paying attention again. Listen for his answer and what kinds of missions his personality draws him to. This will be valuable in future conversations.)

You continue: “Samson’s main mission was to kill off some evil Philistines to help Israel. He got distracted by beautiful women, though, and some bad relationships. He was distracted by what he saw. Does Master Chief’s telescopic vision ever cause him problems? Does it ever hurt your mission or only help it?”

(Play off whatever his response is for your mutual enjoyment or continue your story.)

“Samson’s distracted eyes eventually caused the Philistines to catch him and PLUCK OUT his eyes. Not only that, but a woman—the Philistine Delilah—tricked him and cut his long hair, which God had made the source of his strength. That made him powerless. Samson and Delilah is a famous Bible story. Can Master Chief be robbed of his powers?”

Pay attention to his response—always listen like the caring interlocutor you know you can be.

The Last Word

“Our overall mission—you would probably call it a ‘campaign*’— is to stay close to God. He’s our greatest power and gives us our strength. He gives it through the Holy Spirit, not through our hair like he did for Samson. God also gives us missions. Samson’s mission resulted in him killing the Philistines by pulling down the pillars of the building they were in. But it killed him at the same time. Still, he was avenged for them plucking out his eyes, and he served God’s purposes in the end. If he had kept his eyes and thoughts on God more—been more obedient—it may have been a better result for him. How does Master Chief’s story end?”

(Let him answer and have the last word.)

Your child may know his Bible heroes and not think that Samson is the best person to compare to Master Chief. That’s OK! If that’s the case, you can both, over time, do a little reading to find a better match. That’s all good; it keeps the conversation alive. And he’ll be on his way to comparing and contrasting heroes himself—gaining knowledge and understanding, and thinking biblically.


*I am told that many missions make a campaign.