Faith & Fandom
Walking Dead: Leadership
Before we get started.... “Caaaaarrrrrrrrllllllllllllll.”
In our real lives, just like in Zombie apocalypses, we have leaders. Some people yearn for leadership, some people unsuccessfully avoid it, and some have it forced upon them. Regardless of how they come into the position, these people impact a lot of lives. Often times we don’t actually consider people to be our “leaders” in day to day life, but we have them. Employers, family members, influential friends, pastors, teachers, etc. These people shape and mold our lives. While yes, we do need guidance, we often allow ourselves to let someone make all the hard decisions for us because we are too scared to make them ourselves. This is often what we see taking place throughout the book and show of “The Walking Dead.”
We see Rick initially take the role of leader simply because someone needed to. True, his pre- apocalypse occupation as sheriff did help with the natural selection of him as leader, but it was more due to his character. He lead the group from Atlanta, to Hershel’s, and then eventually on to the prison. He was far from a complete failure as a leader, but he was far from the best. People constantly died on his watch -not that it was his fault- but that’s the problem with being the leader. As we see in James 3:1, “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment.” Yeah I know that this says teacher, but you gotta grasp that we aren’t talking about public school here. Teacher in this sense was a leader. Jesus was called Rabbi, which means Teacher. That is the very essence of what a leader should be.
After Rick’s repeated failings, poor judgments, and a very gruesome conflict with Tyree, he relinquishes his leadership. The weight was just too great. Of course we know that doesn’t last any longer than it takes a walker to re-animate, but it was a good realization to come to.
No discredit to Rick, but a leader in any situation really should be chosen based their qualifications. In Titus we get a list of what a leader should look like. Yes, this is specifically about church leadership, but think about it. How much better would the lives of our morbid wanderers have been if they had selected their leader based on these qualities? How much better would our lives be if we held the people who lead us to these standards as well?
“For an overseer, as God’s administrator, must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not addicted to wine, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.” Titus 1:7-9
Sadly, we like so many of the people we find in the saga of the living-impaired pedestrians allow our leaders to simply be whoever takes the role. We are usually so relieved to find someone who “knows what they are doing” and will take responsibility that we blindly follow. Look at The Governor or Negan. These guys oozed authority, but neither of them should have been leaders, yet they managed to not only lead entire civilizations of survivors, but they also waged wars in which people never questioned their logic. That isn’t the kind of leadership they needed to survive or the kind of leadership we need in our lives. In Proverbs 16:7, we see this: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” That’s true leadership, to be able to bring about peace even with the people we disagree with. Now am I saying that if Rick were more godly he would have been able to make The Governor or Negan be at peace without conflict? No, probably not. Those guys were psychos, but Rick really did operate a lot of his decisions within his own pride,
arrogance and stubbornness.
Jesus teaches us (Jesus the Messiah, not the Walking Dead character named Jesus, who although looks like Jesus is more of a crazy ninja/Jack Bauer kinda guy) that leadership is based not on selfishness or pride, but on humility “But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28
Think of how many more people would have been alive if Rick would have just had a little more humility/servanthood in his leadership. Currently as the story progresses (as I write this Walking Dead issue #130 just hit the stands, and we are 2 months from the premiere of season 5), you actually see a wave of peace over the survivors, but again that isn’t gonna last long. It’ll only be a matter of time before Rick repeats his same mistakes. I know no leader is perfect. I’ve served under seriously flawed leaders, and I’ve been a seriously flawed leader myself. I
encourage you to take stock of the people you allow to lead you. If you see that there are deep character issues in the people leading you, a lack of integrity, or just poor leadership in general, maybe you should re- evaluate allowing them to lead you. Think how many people could have lived if they had ducked out of Woodbury when they started seeing signs that The Governor was one eyeball short of clear vision. On the opposite end of the discussion, if you do have solid leaders in your life, listen to them. Allow them to help you make decisions that will keep you growing. Rick has managed to keep a large portion of his initial group alive all these years (depending on the book or the show) so he isn’t a complete failure. Paul teaches us to take our leadership (good leadership) seriously. “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)
Above all else, make sure that beyond any human leader, you have Christ leading your life. The world may never erupt into a Zombie Apocalypse, but it’s not worth taking any chances.