The Weekly Vista
Who is your hero?
Sometimes out of nowhere strange thoughts come to me. For instance, I was sitting in church one Sunday morning listening to the scripture lesson and paying attention to the pastor’s message when suddenly I began asking the question, “Who is your special hero?” Put another way, who is the hero for all of the young men and women growing up and taking root in our society? And then, I began asking myself the same question: Who were the heroes in my life as I was growing up? And, important as those questions are, I discovered they are not easy to answer.
One would hope that a person’s basic hero would be at least one of his or her parents. I do know from rearing a family of three daughters that there are stages they go through, and these may reflect something of a hero worship. I reveled in how our daughters turned to me early in life and smothered me with affection, and then I quietly observed how they turned to their mother as they grew into young women. They didn’t reject me; I just became number two in their lives. That seemed fair, since they had placed their mother in the number two role for a lot of early years. Were we some kind of heroes to our daughters? We like to think so, but we also know that their hero list has evolved throughout their lives.
I also wonder about all of the dysfunctional families which have multiple children who have never seen their parents as role models, largely because their parents have never allowed themselves to be worthy of such a designation. Too often, these children are set loose in our society and told to find their own heroes without providing them with the guidance they need to accomplish such an important task. Thus, too many of these displaced people make the wrong choices in life and tragically end up coming into conflict with the rest of society.
It’s no wonder (but seriously tragic) that more than 60% of our college graduates today leave as agnostics. Now, it isn’t a sin to have questions about anything; in fact, questioning is often the gateway to learning. However, admitting that you just don’t know something suggests the lack of purpose in that field. If you don’t know something, how are you going to know how to find answers and direction? Normally, you need someone to guide you out of your agnosticism into reality — e.g. a hero — but you have to choose your leader with a lot of thought and care.
It’s obvious that a lot of people have chosen their heroes carelessly. History suggests that millions of Germans chose Adolph Hitler as their hero, symbolized by their cry of “Heil Hitler!” People in our country often appear to be mesmerized by our presidents. They loved it when John Kennedy boldly proclaimed, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country!” And during our last presidential election, almost half of the voters almost adored Donald Trump when he would challenge them by saying, “Make America great again!” Were these heroes to contemporary people? Or maybe, someone turns to a famous musician, a movie star, a famous athlete, or a media personality for a hero. And, if so, were they, and others, poor or good choices for hero worship?
There are a lot of people in our country today who have refused to recognize the existence of God, and especially His son, Jesus. However, very early in my life I discovered that I really liked the person of Jesus, and made him my primary hero. Why? Well, I didn’t know much about what the Bible said and knew nothing about theology, but I wasn’t a complete fool. There were just too many people in my world crying out to be my hero who didn’t meet my personal standards for heroes. How can you be my hero if you do not measure up to my expectations?
I found the biblical and historical record of Jesus amazing. Here was a man who claimed to be the son of God, who did not sin, and instead shared truth and grace, who boldly proclaimed that he was “the way, the truth, and the life; and that he would share that pathway for anyone willing to follow him.” I could almost hear the early disciples making their individual decisions to allow Jesus to be their hero. Jesus met my expectations, and I have never had him fail as my hero.
The selection of my hero was not made through proof; it was made through faith that had a basis in fact. Today, I recognize that Jesus may not be the hero for everyone (although it is a mistake to ignore him), but it is important to make sure your selection of someone to inspire you and to learn from is a worthy hero and not just a charismatic human with ulterior motives.
Robert Box has been a law enforcement chaplain for 30 years. He is a master-level chaplain with the International Conference of Police Chaplains and is an endorsed chaplain with the American Baptist Churches USA. He also currently serves as a deputy sheriff chaplain for the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. Opinions expressed are those of the author and not the agencies he serves.