By Chuck Davis
As a youth, I loved going to the movies with my friends and, like most teenagers, just hanging out. My group would always watch a wide range of films, but we tended to gravitate toward the horror genre. Like a lot of teens, we enjoyed seeing who would get frightened first and then “razz” that poor fellow through the rest of the evening.
As we grew older, and our school group started to spread our wings by going off to college, work and other adventures, we looked forward to those occasions where we would meet up and reminisce about the good old days of your youth. At one particular event, we started talking about those scary movies we would watch and the excitement of waiting for which surprise would spring from the screen.
After our group parted, I started to reflect upon how ironic it was that many of those horror-themed movies actually taught some valuable lessons. As I thought more about it, I realized that much of what I have learned as a leader in my life’s work could actually relate back to the lessons that were intentionally, or unintentionally, part of the horror movie culture.
Lesson #1: “Avoid Vampires”
Your energy, your blood (figuratively and literally) and your life can get sucked right out of you by certain people. One of the secrets to survival in day-to-day living is to find those people who add value to your life.
Lesson #2: “Turn on the Lights”
Groping around in the dark seems like a good idea in some movie scripts. However, it can be a simple step to just walk over and flip the switch. Realize that there needs to be someone (or something) to create that spark to move people to where they really need to be. When in the role of a leader, that spark often times needs to be you.
Lesson #3: “Never Go into the Basement”
Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Don’t go down or hang around those who want to pull you into the abyss of life. Likewise, spend time lifting people up and find ways to acknowledge those people.
Lesson #4: “There is no Silver Bullet”
Rather, I would argue that there are some very important steps to take when going after “monsters”:
- You must have CHARACTER. You will never rise above the level of one’s character. Look around at many of today’s sport and political icons who have had character issues despite having reached certain pinnacles in their career. People tend to remember the screw-ups; what will your legacy be?
- You must have COMMITMENT. We all realize the impact of perseverance and focus. We attempt to teach that to our children and our student-athletes. You must be able to demonstrate this trait daily.
- You must have CONFIDENCE. Sometimes, this means being the actor and putting on a bold face. Whatever is necessary, modeling confident behavior will move you and your followers in the appropriate path.
- You must have COURAGE. The best explanation of what courage may be (especially if you’re battling evil) is allowing fear to hang on a minute longer.
Lesson #5: “Beware of Short-cuts”
In almost every horror classic, there will be one scene when one of the soon-to-be-victims will say, “Let’s take this short-cut through the cemetery.” When my friends and I saw that scene, we would usually howl, in unison, “They’re dead.” As tempting as the quickest way to safety or to the end may appear to be, there often is a more appropriate pathway to get there. Excellence is a habit, not an occurrence. Set the tone for those who follow you. Look for the soundest, safest and best way to achieve what is best for the group.
Lesson #6: “Never Look Back”
Inevitability, those movie characters that kept looking behind them would have the worse-case scenario jump out at them along their escape. Most of the time, they would end up running smack dab into a tree or a similar obstacle. Once you make the decision needed, move forward with confidence and don’t slow you or your group down by dealing with the “spooky things” that may be nipping at your heels.
As long as there continues to be movies being made, there will be films which will frighten, scare, startle and create havoc to audiences. That sounds a lot like how we deal every day with trying to set the right example for those we lead, doesn’t it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chuck Davis is the lead pastor at the Calvary Assembly of God in Orrville, Ohio