“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”1 Corinthians 11:1
I virtually grew up with a baseball bat in my hands. Hitting a baseball always came naturally to me. God gifted me with this unique ability, and I was fortunate enough to play at a high level and meet some amazing people along the way. I love the game of baseball and it remains a big part of my life even to this day.
Having played baseball at a high level, I have a deeper appreciation for the best professional hitters in the game. And although I admire what these big-leaguers can do at the plate, I would not say that any of them are my heroes — nor should I.
I also love music and have been given multiple musical gifts. Being a musical jack-of-all- trades and a master of none, I also have come to appreciate the best singers and musicians in the industry for their amazing talents. But again, I can appreciate a musician’s gift without calling him or her a hero.
You see, one of the many misfortunes of American Pop culture is that we have come to confuse giftedness and talent with heroism. We prop up our American idols everywhere and paste pictures of them on our walls and sell out their stadiums because we need heroes to follow. We desire to associate with greatness and to ascend to that greatness.
The only problem is that greatness is not measured by how far someone can hit a baseball or how skillfully another can play the guitar. Frankly, greatness has nothing to do with talent and ability. Some of the most talented people in the world are the most egotistical, selfish, vile people you will ever meet.
Giftedness does not automatically translate into greatness.
Real heroes are not judged by how talented or rich or beautiful or famous they are.
True greatness is measured by self-sacrifice and serving others, just as Christ came to demonstrate Himself.
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Mark 10:42-45
One of the true blessings that has emerged from the COVID-19 debacle is that we have been reminded how irrelevant and superficial our pop culture heroes really are, and we have rediscovered the real heroes in our life.
I don’t necessarily blame these famous public figures for thinking more highly of themselves than they ought. We are the ones who have fed their egos and idolized them to a fault. But at the end of the day, we had to learn that sports figures and entertainers and musicians and actors are not our heroes — they never were.
The true heroes in life are what I call “real” people. Everyday, ordinary people who are making a difference in the lives of those around them. True heroes are those who maybe weren’t born with exceptional athletic or musical ability, but they are exceptional people. They wake up everyday and make a conscious choice to do what is right and to love others and to help others and to be kind and compassionate to those around them.
True heroes are …
- The single parents who sacrifice their dreams to work two jobs just so their children will have a better life. Oh, and without complaining.
- The teachers and school administrators who are underpaid and overworked but still sacrifice time with their own families to make a difference in the lives of countless other families.
- The coaches who spend countless hours preparing their players for the game but are always willing to give a few more hours to help prepare their players for life.
- The police officers who put their lives on the line every single day and yet are hated and unappreciated by many in their own communities.
- The fire fighters, first responders, doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers who put themselves at risk and see the worst of the worst, while holding it all in when going home to their families at night.
- The stay-at-home moms who are trying to manage a house, raise three kids, cook, clean, provide taxi services, do homework, and still have enough energy to welcome their husbands home with a smile.
- The dads who leave home at 5 am and work til dark just to put food on the table and provide for their families, while at the same time keeping a good attitude and staying strong for their children to see what true manhood looks like.
- The pastors of churches big and small — many of them working bi-vocationally — who pour out their hearts in praying and sermon preparation and planning and discipling and administrating and visiting and counseling etc… only to struggle with regular bouts of doubt and discouragement and even depression.
- The men and women in the armed services who often move their families all over the world and serve multiple combat tours, only to come back home with PTSD and a family that is falling apart.
- Our Immigration/Customs and Boarder Patrol agents who are on the front lines in stopping human trafficking and the relentless drug cartels from funneling kidnapped children and deadly drugs across our boarders.
I could on and on …
True heroes are difference makers in the lives of those around them. True heroes are willing to give of themselves, not take from others. True heroes are humble and kind and considerate of others. True heroes are courageous and strong in the face of adversity. True heroes work hard and don’t complain. True heroes understand that the world is much bigger than themselves. True heroes are willing to sacrifice their very lives for the benefit of others.
You see, we can live without superstar athletes and American idols. But we can’t live without the true heroes in our lives.
I thank God for allowing me to rediscover who the true heroes of my life are.
Now go be a real hero and make a real difference in the lives of others.
And be sure to thank the real heroes that God has placed in your life.