How to Be a God

1. Be decisive
If you’re going to be a god, start acting like one. Nobody likes a wishy-washy god. Make bold declarative statements. When you want something done, command it. Imagine you’re Captain Picard on the Next Generation Enterprise, waving your hand and ordering ‘make it so.’ When you make a decision, it’s the law until you say it isn’t. You’re allowed to change your mind, but try not to be capricious about it; that didn’t work out well for a lot of gods before you. (See Louis XVI.)

2. Be welcoming
Gods draw their strength from the faith of their followers, so you’re going to need followers. Some gods do this by choosing an adversary for their followers to oppose (think of presidential candidates here), but that’s not necessary; you can be inclusive and universal, loving everyone equally but your followers a little more (it’s a paradox), which is more in keeping with the recent trend toward less violent, less judgmental gods. (See Flying Spaghetti Monster.)

3. Be a leader
In order to have followers, you need to be going somewhere. Have a mission, a purpose, which will engage your followers and keep them active. It can be physical, such as claiming a piece of land and establishing it as your Holy Ground (but do try not to slay the infidels; they hate that), or it can be spiritual or metaphysical, leading your acolytes to enlightenment or some other goal. In any case, you get to invent commandments and doctrines for your flock. Funny hats and robes are historically popular, but that fad may be pretty well played out now unless you can come up with a really smart spin to refresh the concept.

4. Be quotable
It’s not enough to just bark orders; they need to be pithy, succinct and memorable. If you can do it in rhyme, that’s even better. Whether you want your followers to only eat certain foods or engage in a unique courtship ritual, try to say it in 10 words or less (six is better). Do not feel obligated to follow the traditional ‘Thou shalt not’ format in structuring your prohibitions, as your followers may find it a bit derivative.

5. Be forgiving
Your people are going to screw up. They’re going to do the things you have forbidden, they’re going to forget to do the things you commanded, they’re going to re-write your edicts to better suit their preferences, and they are going to invent ridiculous things and claim you said them. Reserve smiting for only the worst repeat offenders. You are going to need your followers to see that you are a loving and forgiving god, but they also need to know that you mean it when you say something. You’ll probably have to hand out the occasional punishment in order to make the point. Guilt, shame and peer pressure work better than the infliction of pain and injury. You’re certain to have a few followers who think they’re doing it better than the others, and they will want to have a special title. Let them be your enforcers; they can instigate a shunning or mild inquisition on your behalf, and will usually beat you to it if you let them. Your biggest task will be to hold them back. Try to do so before they start heating the branding irons.