Ethos Education

Marvel’s Avengers Assemble: Leading from the Heart

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Assembly Objective: 

  • What does it mean to be a leader? This assembly explores the Bible’s teaching about leadership as a way of serving people.

Film:

  • Marvel’s Avengers Assemble (Paramount, 2012, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible: 

Supporting Values Education:

  • The values of Individual Liberty, Democracy and Rule of Law are based upon a belief in a structure for civil society in which certain people have leadership roles. The values of Respect and Tolerance presuppose an understanding of the intrinsic worth of each individual.  This assembly explores how leaders can recognise the value of all people by the way in which they serve them.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Test of Leadership (quiz)

Download the Test of Leadership PowerPoint for use with this activity.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Ask the students to take part in our interactive quiz to find out what kind of leader they are. Ask them to vote (by raising their hands) to indicate how they would answer each question, and then reveal what their answers show about them.
    • Questions:
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Question 1: You are leading a business team and arranging a team-bonding activity. Some people want to go paintballing, others want something more relaxing, like a boat trip. What do you do?
      • a) Sign everyone up for whichever activity was suggested first.
      • b) Carefully read up about both activities and work out the pros and cons of each of them.
      • c) Decide which activity you will enjoy most, and make everyone do that.
      • d) Ask your team to vote, and go with whichever activity gets the most votes.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Question 2: You are leading a sports team, and picking the side for the final of a big tournament. What do you do?
      • a) Stick with the same team that played the previous match.
      • b) Stay up all night analysing the strengths and weaknesses of each of your players and each of the opposing players, devising a master strategy to win the game.
      • c) Pick yourself in your favourite position, then fit everyone else in around yourself.
      • d) Play the strongest side, even if that means you missing out.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Question 3: You are leading a political party, and you are planning policies for the next election. What do you do?
      • a) Arrange a press conference and just say the first things that come into your head.
      • b) Commission lots of opinion polls and focus groups to find out what the public wants, analyse the data and work out what set of policies will appeal to the widest possible range of voters.
      • c) Push forward all of your favourite policies.
      • d) Discuss the policies with other members of the party and come up with a manifesto that all of you can get behind.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Question 4: You are the manager of a supermarket, and you have to select ‘employee of the month’. What do you do?
      • a) Give the award to the first person you see when you look out of your office window.
      • b) Spend hours checking the personnel records of the entire staff, cross-referencing with their attendance records for the month and any comments received from customers about good or bad service.
      • c) Give the award to your best friend on the staff, or to yourself.
      • d) Give the award to someone who doesn’t get a lot of credit for all their hard work, and give the whole staff a small cash bonus for working so hard.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Question 5: You are the leader of a small military unit, and you need a volunteer for a very dangerous mission. What do you do?
      • a) Ask the first member of the unit that you meet to take on the mission.
      • b) Organise rigorous training activities so you can monitor everyone and see who has the most appropriate skill-set for the mission.
      • c) Hand pick someone who is most likely to succeed and who you don’t like much.
      • d) Choose yourself – it’s not fair to ask anyone to risk their life doing something you aren’t willing to do.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • If you answered mostly A: Whatever the challenge, you charge headlong into it without stopping to think. No one could accuse you of ducking out of anything, but no one could accuse you of using your brain either.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • If you answered mostly B: You always stop and think about the best way forward. Sometimes that brings great results, but sometimes you waste too much time and miss the right moment to act.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • If you answered mostly C: Your management style is based around what’s best for you, and who cares how that affects anybody else. When the going gets tough, you may well find that the people you lead have long since deserted you.
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • If you answered mostly D: You always think about what’s best for the people you lead. It isn’t always easy but you make sure that you support your team every bit as much as they support you.
    • After completing the quiz, explain that in today’s assembly you are going to be thinking about the importance of leaders having the right attitude towards leadership.

Oxymorons Rule (something to think about)

Download the Oxymorons Rule PowerPoint for use with this activity.

  • Display the PowerPoint with a suitable musical accompaniment. We suggest Nick Lowe’s Cruel To Be Kind (which is available on the album Quiet Please… the New Best of Nick Lowe Proper Records, 2009). Click here to buy the song as an MP3 download. If you are choosing an alternative soundtrack, it will need to be at least two minutes and thirty seconds in length to last until the end of the PowerPoint.
  • After the PowerPoint, move straight into the talk.

FILM CLIP

  • Play the clip from Marvel’s Avengers Assemble (Paramount, 2012, certificate 12):
    • Start time: 0.42.59 (in chapter 9 of the DVD)
    • End time: 0.44.26
    • Clip length: 1 minute and 27 seconds
  • The clip starts with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) landing heavily (Loki groans). The first line is Thor demanding, ‘Where is the Terreract?’ The clip ends with Loki saying, ‘I’m listening,’ after Thor is suddenly whisked away by Iron Man in the middle of berating his brother.
  • The clip shows Thor and Loki arguing over their past clashes and Loki’s current plan to establish himself as dictator over the human race. Thor tells him that if what he wants is to lord it over lesser beings, he is ill-suited for the throne.

TALK

Download the Service Avengers Assemble PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Oxymorons. As [insert name of an English teacher at the school] would doubtless tell you, an Oxymoron isn’t a very stupid farm animal, it’s a figure of speech which combines two contradictory terms. For example, serious fun; deafening silence; military intelligence. [If you used Opening Activity: Oxymorons Rule, you could refer to that instead of citing further examples].
    • Sometimes Oxymorons are deliberately constructed to distract us from the truth about something – when a soldier is killed by shots from his own allies, it is now commonly described as ‘friendly fire’. I’m sure the soldiers on the receiving end would tell you there’s nothing particularly friendly about it. Those kind of Oxymorons are designed to distance us from something unpleasant and unpalatable. But there are other oxymorons which help us to understand important truths. We’re going to think about the oxymoronic idea of ‘servant leadership’ today. To help us do that, here are some superheroes.
    • Play the clip from Marvel’s Avengers Assemble:
      • Start time: 0.42.59 (in chapter 9 of the DVD)
      • End time: 0.44.26
      • Clip length: 1 minute and 27 seconds
    • The clip starts with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) landing heavily (Loki groans). The first line is Thor demanding, ‘Where is the Terreract?’ The clip ends with Loki saying, ‘I’m listening,’ after Thor is suddenly whisked away by Iron Man in the middle of berating his brother.
    • If you are unable to play the clip, say, ‘There’s a scene in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble movie where Thor confronts Loki. Loki is set on establishing himself as the supreme ruler of Earth, and when Loki admits to wanting to lord it over the puny humans, Thor tells him that he is ill-suited for ruling if that is his attitude.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Servant leadership: Thor gets it and Loki doesn’t. As far as Loki is concerned the natural place of humans is to be ruled, and his rightful place is as a king: doing what he wants and paying no attention to the needs or desires of the people that he rules.
    • [click] It’s easy for us to think of leadership as being about power. We think of leaders as decisive individuals who order others around and generally make things the way they want them. Some of Jesus’ followers made a similar mistake, and Jesus made it very clear to them that they were missing the point of leadership:
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.’ Luke 22:24-27 (NIV).
    • That’s a profoundly oxymoronic concept, isn’t it? In the culture Jesus and his followers were living in, age equated to authority. Younger men and women would routinely defer to their older counterparts. When Jesus says ‘the greatest among you should be like the youngest’, his followers would have heard, ‘the greatest should be like the least’.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • The idea that the one who rules should be like the one who serves was just as provocative. Those words are easy to say, but not necessarily easy to follow through on. Jesus showed that he wasn’t all talk. His commitment to servant leadership was so great that he willingly laid down his own life for the sake of the people he was leading. Most leaders aren’t called on to make quite that big a sacrifice, but the principle of putting others’ needs first is a hugely challenging one.
    • And yet, that’s the only way for society to work. If the people in charge just do what is best for them, then that leaves a lot of other people seriously unhappy most of the time. The only way for a happy society, whether we’re talking at a national scale, local scale or even within single families, is if the people making the decisions make the needs of everyone else their prime concern. [click] A leader who sees his or her role as serving the people they lead will be more successful than one who is just looking to please themselves.
    • Some of you may already have some kind of leadership role: here in school [mention prefects, head boy or girl if those roles exist in your school], in clubs or sports teams. The chances are that all of us, in one way or another, will be put into a position of responsibility for other people at some point in our lives. Start now to cultivate the habit of thinking more widely than just what’s best for you. Start now to develop skills in servant leadership to make sure that if you are called on to lead a group of people, you can be the kind of leader that people want to follow.

Headings and Bullets

Download the Service Avengers Assemble PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Oxymorons:
      • Not a stupid farm animal.
      • Figure of speech combining two contradictory terms.
      • Eg: serious fun, deafening silence, military intelligence [refer to Opening Activity: Oxymorons Rule if used].
      • Sometimes intended to distact – friendly fire.
      • Sometimes help us to understand important truths.
      • Today we’re thinking about an oxymoron: servant leadership.
      • To help us, here are some superheroes.
      • Play the clip from Marvel’s Avengers Assemble.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Servant leadership: Thor gets it and Loki doesn’t.
      • Loki wants to put himself on top, in charge.
      • Loki doesn’t want to think about anyone else’s needs.
      • [click] It’s easy to think of leadership as being about power.
      • Some of Jesus’ followers made the same mistake.
      • Jesus explained they were missing the point of leadership.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.’ Luke 22:24-27 (NIV).
    • Profoundly oxymoronic.
    • In Jesus’ culture age equalled authority.
    • Jesus is saying, ‘The greatest should be like the least.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Provocative idea: leaders should serve the led.
      • Jesus’ life backed up his words.
      • Most leaders aren’t called on to die for their followers, but putting others first is still a challenging principle to act on.
      • For society to work, leaders have to do it.
      • Decisions shouldn’t be made just for the benefit of the decision-makers.
      • [click] A leader who serves will be more successful than one who puts themself first.
    • Some of you may already have a leadership role.
      • In school (mention prefects, head boy or girl if appropriate), in clubs or sports teams.
      • All of us will have responsibility for others at one time or another.
      • Start now to cultivate good habits – think more widely than just how things affect you.
      • Develop skills in servant leadership.
      • When the time comes, be the kind of leader people want to follow.

Photo Copyright for Test of Leadership PowerPoint: Slide 1 Marvel / Slides 7-10 iStockphoto.com

Photo Copyright for Oxymorons Rule PowerPoint:  All images from iStockphoto.com

Photo Copyright for Service Avengers Assemble Talk PowerPoint: Slide 1 Marvel / Slide 2 Loki Marvel, Thor Marvel / Slide 3 LUMO Project image 11 / Slide 4 LUMO Project image 9 / Slide 5 LUMO Project image 3


RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God, thank you for Jesus’ example of putting others first. Help those in leadership positions over us to follow that example, and help us to develop leadership skills to enable us to do the same. Amen.

Reflection

  • Do you agree that seeking to serve other people is the best way of leading them? Thinking of the people with authority over you, which ones are best at doing that? What makes them so good? How would you go about displaying a similar attitude in any leadership roles you are given, now or in the future?

YOU WILL NEED: 

  1. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble (Paramount, 2012, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. Test of Leadership PowerPoint.
  3. Oxymorons Rule PowerPoint.
  4. Service Avengers Assemble PowerPoint.
  5. Cruel to be Kind by Nick Lowe to accompany the Oxymorons Rule powerPoint.

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