Home > Leadership > What Darth Vader Taught me about People

What Darth Vader Taught me about People

leadership peopleI was four years old when I first saw Darth Vader.

I didn’t even know what evil was at the time—but the Dark Lord of the Sith soon remedied that. Darth Vader would define and, ultimately, personify evil for me as a child. And as my understanding of evil deepened, my appreciation for good grew.

I was six years old when I heard Darth Vader tell Luke Skywalker that he was his father. “Liar,” I thought—along with every other young boy in the world. But—in true Star Wars fashion—I had a bad feeling about it. “Vader isn’t tricky,” I thought. “He’s in your face. He doesn’t play mind games, he just strangles you from across the room.”

I remember watching the last movie as a nine-year-old. In the opening scene, Darth Vader walks out of a ship with The Imperial March pounding away in the background—I was literally squirming in my seat.

I remember feeling sorry for Luke because he spent most of the movie believing that Darth Vader could be saved. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, Dude, he’s Darth Vader for crying out loud. Give it a rest. He’s evil. He can’t turn.

In the end, Vader did turn. He changed. He came back. Darth Vader found his good.

At nine years old I watched the most evil person I knew—the one who personified the word for me—discover a hidden good buried deep within him. And that good was enough to change everything.

Looking back, the redemption of Darth Vader was a watershed moment in my life. I began to regard people differently. After all, if there was good hiding in Darth Vader, there might be good hiding in anyone. And if Darth Vader could change, then maybe anyone could change.

Needless to say, I’ve found these principles validated time and again over the last few decades.

What events in your life helped form the way you see people?

  1. August 15, 2011 at 8:36 am

    I’ve always been a people watcher. I like to call myself a professional wall flower. Now I use all that in creating my characters. I love that movie, by the way. Wish I could get my hands on the other three.

    • August 15, 2011 at 8:56 am

      I love people-watching too. I’m afraid it’s becoming a bit of a lost art given all we can do to busy ourselves on our smartphones! It’s good to be reminded that just sitting and observing humans is worthwhile in and of itself—thanks!

  2. August 15, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Good post. Sometimes we get caught up in our everyday lives and everyday news about something that went really bad that we forget that goodness can be found. It’s encouraging! Thanks!

  3. August 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I agree, Javier. Sometimes it’s hidden pretty deep, but it’s there!

  4. August 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Awesome post buddy!!

    • August 15, 2011 at 11:19 pm

      Thanks Danny, thought this one would be right up your alley.

  5. November 10, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Interesting post! For me, seeing people respond when you give them a legitimate way to help other people – has kept my faith in people very much alive. I’m not a strong believer in the idea of ‘apathy’ – I think people respond to certain things, and if they appear apathetic it’s because they’re not being engaged in the right way.

    • December 1, 2011 at 11:51 am

      I wholeheartedly agree. I’ll admit it doesn’t work in all cases, but I always start by assuming the problem is with me and my leadership if someone isn’t “responding.”

  6. Tim
    December 1, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Beautiful! Awesome story of how God used Star Wars to speak truth to you! I think the ability to see potential and treat all people with dignity is a rare gift. And a much needed one.

    • December 1, 2011 at 11:52 am

      Thanks Tim. I’m just glad this truth got lodged in me at such a young age.

  7. December 1, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I saw your link on Michael Hyatt’s blog and I had to see what you wrote. I didn’t get into Star Wars until later in life. Now that I am at the ripe old age of 23, I am much wiser now. But seriously, I do love the transformation at the end of that movie when Vader comes back. I actually talked with the guys in my youth group last night about not giving up on others because there is always hope. You just never know how much influence you have on someone until they begin to change. Luke had no real reason to believe his father would come back but he didn’t give up. I love this imagery!

    • December 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      That’s a great message, Brandon. We truly never know how much influence we have on people—whether we ever see it or not. Take from a guy who been around a little bit longer than you: I promise there will be boys in the that youth group that you’ll forget in a few years, but they’ll never forget the impact you had on them.

  8. December 1, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Great post. Why? Because I was Darth Vader a year ago. And now I am believing for the Darth Vaders out there to turn back.


    • December 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      Daren, again, you’re a living testimony—you’ve made my day. Thanks for sharing.

  9. December 2, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Geoff, great post!

    I’ve always enjoyed Star Wars and it is great to see a post on how he could relate to someone in our lives.

  10. jonstolpe
    December 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    You know I didn’t resonate with until I saw the newer 3rd movie when Darth Vader first came on the scene. I love the story of redemption that comes out through the Star Wars series.

  11. Anonymous
    January 5, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Geoff, I am your father…

  1. September 1, 2011 at 3:07 am
  2. October 3, 2011 at 12:51 am
  3. November 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm
  4. November 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm
  5. December 1, 2011 at 12:15 am
  6. December 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm

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