Faith & Fandom
The Flash: Squad Goals
So let me say I was not a Flash fan. I didn't even know any real Flash fans (other than Morgan Leigh Forrest) before the show aired. I never had anything against him. He was just always more of supporting character to me than the central focus. So I was almost skittish when CW started moving toward the Flash as an Arrow spin off, so let me just say, I don't know everything. Flash turned out to be pretty flippin amazing, and one of the more solid Superhero shows ever. It's ratings are killer, it's cast extremely well- rounded, and it has made the character of the Flash more popular and cool than he has been, or would have been for decades. So beyond just the fact it's actually a fantastic show I have one element of the show that always left me a bit doubtful, and that is that Barry had a whole team working with him. In all the comics I'd read or TV shows, beyond the League, Flash was a solo kinda guy. He'd have the occasional hero team up, but he didn't have his own built in squad. I mean it makes sense for Arrow. Ollie is a narcissistic, stubborn, self reliant, quick-tempered man with lethal weapons and no super powers. He could use a team for his assistance but also for his own self preservation.
Barry on the other hand is one of the most powerful heroes in their universe, a scientist, and part of the police force. He kinda has it all. It makes little sense that he would constantly rely on his star labs squad after his early days, at least in comparison to other incarnations of the character. But I get it, it's the CW. The more attractive 20- somethings they can fit on the screen at one time, the better. But as I drew deeper into the series I really began to actually appreciate the team aspect.
Plain and simple Barry Allen, as he currently exists/ existed on the CW series, needs a team. Yes, in theory he can operate without his crew. Early in Season 2 we saw what that looked like, and it was ugly. Even though Barry was convinced he needed to work alone, all of his best moments have been with his team alongside of him. He literally had a built in team waiting for him when he woke up. True not all of their motives were pure (#sketchywells), but they guided him, equipped him, mended him, cried with him, laughed with him, and became his family. He may have flown off the handle a few times, dramatically leaving his earpiece behind, but if it wasn't for his team he would have long been dead, and a lot of his city, and potentially the world with him.
Lately, I've been learning the value of being on a team. For a lot of my career as a minister I've operated solo. Not that I didn't have other staff members or employers, or co-ministers, it's just that it wasn't exactly team centered. In camp ministry, I was part of a small group of missionaries that founded,
established, and built a Bible camp in southeast NC. None of us knew what we were doing and we were all doing our very best to make this place into not only a functional facility but also a camp that would change kids lives forever. Our staff was small and we were close, but most of the time we were all trying to hold our own areas together which often left us individually grinding away, apart from our team. Later when I became an associate pastor of a church, I was working side by side with a veteran pastor who had been ministering longer than I'd been alive. He trusted me completely. I remember my first day I walked into his office with a notebook and asked him what he wanted me to do, what plans he had for me, what hours he wanted me to keep, what goals, etc. He looked at me, smiled, and said, "Whatever God leads you." That was it. He meant it. Whatever I wanted to do, whatever I felt God lead, I was given the chance to do. The finances, the facilities, the opportunities, and the trust were all part of that deal. The only hard part was it was on me. I didn't have a team or other people to reach out to on a staff level. My senior pastor covered all the "Big Church" stuff, and I covered youth, college, public relations, facilities, outreach, and a few other things I don't remember, but it was on me alone, and it was really hard some days. I love that church, that pastor, and the opportunities I was given, but pretty much I was about in the same place Barry was at the start of season 2. I was getting the job done, but not at the level I could with other people standing alongside me. God builds us to be part of team.
"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Barry may have needed a team to get started, but when things got harder he needed them even more. When they discovered that Wells was the Reverse Flash, it was bad. "For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, Then I could bear it; Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, Then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend " - Psalm 55:12-13.
Being betrayed by someone you put your hope and faith into is hard, and it left Barry in the same emo state as we see in Micah 7:5 "Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms." Without his team there would have been no way Barry could have coped with the heartbreak (he was still struggling with it a season later) and especially no way for him to have stopped Eobard, or the giant wormhole of death that appeared later. Zoom broke him, humiliated him, and showed his defeat off to his city. " Look at your hero. This man is no god. He is nothing! The days of The Flash protecting the city are over. Now what will you do without your precious hero? " - Zoom.
Side note: when Zoom was flaunting Barry's defeat, it is how imagine Satan felt when Jesus had been crucified. Satan was about as premature in his celebration as Zoom.
Barry was broken, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Barry needed his team not only to help him heal, but to cover him when he was defeated, and to build him back up. They wouldn't rest until Barry was whole. That's what is valuable about having a team. Going back to our previous verse from Ecclesiastes 4 "...But woe to him who is alone when he falls..."
So recently I became a pastor of a local church plant/ satellite campus of a larger church. The concept of doing this scared me so bad. I didn't know the answers to how everything would turn out, or how it would be provided for. Bottom line, I was straight up scared, because I felt like I was alone in this. I had been in ministry in the same city for 10 years, I felt like I had burned out, bottomed out, and ran out of drive to keep going, because I couldn't do it on my
own anymore. But check out what Barry so wisely stated before almost getting eaten by King Shark. "Things aren't always what they seem. Our fears can play tricks on us, making us afraid to change course, afraid to move on. But usually, hidden behind our fears are second chances waiting to be seized, second chances at life, at glory, at family, and these opportunities don't come around everyday. So when they do we have to be brave, and take a chance and grab them while we can."
I felt like I needed to go anywhere in ministry but where I was, my fear had kicked in. But thankfully God showed himself beyond my fears. Before we launched, we spent a couple months training, growing, and bonding with a team of people who were going to launch this church with me. That literally made all the difference. As I write this our church has only been running 7 months, and I have no guarantee how long it will last, but I can say this with 100% certainty, I couldn't have done it alone. In our short existence we have housed several major outreach efforts, worked with a few interns, met people's needs, given counsel, and seen 20+ people meet Jesus, and 9 people be baptized. None of that is to brag on me or our church, and it's not meant to knock the church I previously served with. Ultimately salvation is in the hands of God anyway. The point is God was able to do more with a team of people working together, following Him, than me on my own.
Jonathan Yarboro, who works with Collegiate Partnerships in my area, recently said this phrase to me in passing, and it hit me to my core; "If It's not team, it's not sustainable." In order for us to actually not just do good in short spurts, it has to be done with the foundation of a team. If we want this to be something that lasts, it can't be just about us. If the Flash is going to truly do good, he has to build a network of people that are all trying to accomplish the same thing as him. And your team has to know they are a team and that it's not just about one person. "Being a Superhero isn't always about how fast you can run it's about helping however you can, wherever you're needed most...Who says no to being a superhero?. " - Caitlin Snow.
Caitlin may know she is on Team Flash, but she needs to knows full well that her role on the team is just as vital as Mr. Allen's. Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." This verse shows us that we must consider the people that stand beside us not as sidekicks, or our support, but as vital, equal, and even more important than ourselves.
So here's the question; do you have a team in your life? Are there people you "do life" with? Are there people you are bonded to that are moving in the same direction? The things that matter to you, are you trying to accomplish them on your own or do you have people walking alongside you. If Barry needs a team of nerds at his side, you probably do too. God never intended for you to walk alone, and especially not to build His Kingdom alone.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." - Proverbs 27:17 "Out of yourself, into the team"- Jay Garrick, Earth 2 Flash