Don’t worry. I promise not to post that sappy song from Mariah Carey. You know the one I’m talking about. The one where she sings “And then a hero comes along with the strength to carry on.” The one that used to bring me to tears if I heard it at the right moment. (Did I just admit that? Hey, real men cry, don’t they?) No, this blog post is all about the qualities that make a hero, those intangibles that literally force others to look up to you. So, what makes a hero? Is your definition based on that of the world or something bigger?
The worldly qualities that create phony heroes of today are in sharp contrast to the Biblical definition of a hero. I actually had a handful of students say that Miley Cyrus was their hero earlier this year. No, that was not a misprint, and yes, I am dead serious. Their reasoning? Miley doesn’t care what others think of her. She just does her thing, stays true to herself, and doesn’t let those haters affect her. Alright, that reasoning actually sounds somewhat logical … maybe for people that dress modestly. People that don’t stick their tongues out for every picture. People who don’t consider twerking a national pastime.
So, what about you? Who was your hero in life growing up? What made that person special to you? What separated them from the rest of the world? As a kid, for me that person was my dad. He was untouchable. He always came home from work with a smile on his face, he always made time for me, and positivity radiated from his every step. He was the type of man who morphed life’s challenges into opportunities to grow. I was constantly reminded day after day that a hiccup in life produced endurance inside a man. You learned from life’s mistakes and let those mistakes make you a better person down the road. My father modeled that philosophy to a tee, and he still does to this very day.
The Biblical character that comes to mind when you think of being joyful no matter what the circumstance is Paul. We have been studying the New Testament in church recently, and when you look at Paul’s life, he actually embraces pain, torment, and adversity. Take the words straight from Paul’s mouth in 2 Corinthians 12: 10 when he says, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul sees the bigger picture. He knows that the challenges we face in life bring God closer to us, and believe me, Paul was a man who met some challenges in his day.
Read through 2 Corinthians 11: 24-28 where Paul defines his struggles and think about how you would have reacted to each situation. Paul was whipped, beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, and left for dead in the ocean treading water for a night and a day. He was imprisoned, falsely accused, spat on, and ridiculed with no mercy. Yet not once did he lose his step. Not once did he fall back and say that it wasn’t worth it. He willingly led a life of persecution to spread God’s word, and he did it with courage, purpose, and conviction. To me that man is a hero. Granted, Christ is the ultimate hero, but Paul brings a little bit of humanness to the table. You see, Paul was not always a follower of Christ.
In Acts 7 we hear the story of another Christian hero, Stephen, a valiant crusader for Christ who was stoned to death for his beliefs. The man behind that execution? You guessed it! Paul. Paul was the most feared Pharisee out there, and he was ruthless toward all believers. If you’re searching for a modern comparison, you might compare Paul to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. Paul was anything but perfect, yet God used him, the unlikeliest of all men in his time, to become a disciple. Don’t we all have a bit of Paul in us? Nobody is perfect, and our flaws always hold us back. Paul is relatable. He’s real. And he likewise proves that no matter how you live your life, you can rededicate yourself to the Lord at any time. That’s a hero to me.
Right now my toddlers are going through their superhero phase. Yes, they love watching the old Adam West Batman episodes on Saturday night, running around the yard with their capes flying behind them, and arguing over who gets to wear the Green Lantern underwear. They also, however, recognize me as a real hero. The day my oldest son declared that to me at bedtime, and he has done it multiple times since, sent shivers down my spine. It made me realize the importance of the role I play for him. Then I began to think about the number of students I have that might be coming from split families or families where mom and dad work three jobs and don’t have time for their kids. Suddenly a teacher becomes quite the important figure in that kid’s life.
Teachers are heroes. Every day, every second of their time on the job. Don’t you ever doubt the impact you have on your students. They need positive adult role models everywhere in their lives, and some of our students need them a heck of a lot more than others. Those are the ones that may not get that support at home. With that in mind, how will you be a hero today? How will you be a modern day Paul? Will you sacrifice the time to listen to their problems, or will you hide behind your computer checking e-mail? Will you take the time to go to your students extra curricular activities or will you use that time to get in that last round of golf before the weather gets too cold? Paul spent every waking second of his life being a crusader for Christ’s word once he was converted. It is time that we did the same today. Be a real teacher today. Be a hero.