Who are your heroes? Who are the people you want most to emulate? Who do you want to be most like? Why them? This series of questions reveals much about a person. Those who most influence us give perhaps the greatest insight into our character. In every person’s life, there are a few people—real or fictional—whose actions, decisions and stories grab our imaginations and shape our very selves. We don’t become the character but join with them in a pact to form our own character.
Consider discussing who your heroes are with those you’re in community with. Learning who someone emulates shapes the way we understand them as a person. When I ask believers who their heroes are, I ask them to look in three places for their answer: the Bible, history and fiction.
Heroes in the Bible
Whom in the Bible are you drawn to? When we read the Bible, we naturally gravitate toward certain stories and characters for individual reasons. Maybe we can relate to their situation and see the Lord’s work in both their circumstance and ours.
Personally, I find myself continually drawn to two individuals: Samuel and Jonathan. These men are not spotlight characters in 1 Samuel like Saul or David, but they both portray steadfast examples of listening wholeheartedly to the Lord. I admire their ability to obey Him regardless of the cost and their willingness to lay down their own desires for God’s choice ruler.
When I’m feeling particularly distraught over sin, I run to the gospel and epistles of John. Reading John is like being held in a loving grandfather’s arms, being reminded in gentle but resonant language of the power of Christ and the hope I have in Him. I want to write like Grandfather John. I want to encourage and edify like him. I want to run a long and faithful race like his.
I love Samuel, Jonathan and John. I find myself looking to them more and more as they point me to the Savior. I can’t wait to one day celebrate with them before our one true King.
Heroes in History
Bible heroes are certainly historical. But as you examine your heroes further, which historical heroes outside of the Bible have shaped you?
My dad and granddad are two of my greatest historical influences, particularly in the way they have practiced Christ’s call to treat others the way they themselves would want to be treated. They taught me how to honor others in everything from everyday manners to being a man of integrity who puts others before himself.
My wife, Jenny, is another hero of mine. In our seven years together, she has shown me an extraordinary level of fortitude, faith and hard work. We’ve faced much together already. No matter the trial, she is always quick to stop and pray, obediently looking to God’s Word for help. Despite how difficult the challenge may be, Jenny gets through it.
Another historical figure who has been a hero to me is Jimmy Stewart. You may know him from “It’s a Wonderful Life” or some of his other incredible films. But I’ve come to know the man through biographies and other writings. His story informs my own.
Stewart was a man of deep faith, an A-list Hollywood star who attended church and read the Psalms to the congregation on Sundays. He was faithful to his wife and loved her well. He left his career at its height to serve his country, flying bombing missions over Germany in World War II. He returned from the war and continued to be a convictional artist, once saying, “A James Stewart picture must have two vital ingredients: It will be clean and it will involve the triumph of the underdog over the bully.” I want those to be vital ingredients to anything that I attempt, as well.
Heroes in Fiction
Who are your heroes from novels, movies and other fictional environments? These fictional heroes leave their mark on our character because they embody qualities we recognize as virtuous and desirable.
My primary fictional hero is Atticus Finch, the father and lawyer from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Atticus is a different kind of hero. His courage doesn’t lie in winning glorious battles but in raising his children with moral conviction, practicing that conviction regardless of personal cost. We see the strength behind his quiet nature when he enters the courtroom to defend a black man wrongly accused. Even with every odd against him in a largely racist community, he stands his ground. I admire Atticus as a loving father and as a man who faces adversity and evil head-on.
Another fictional hero of mine is Superman—the Man of Steel himself. I admire him not for his powers or his might but for his steely integrity. People look to Superman because they know he’s dependable. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to do the right thing and oppose evil. I want to be like that. And if a cape came with it, I’d be OK with that, too.
Those are some of my heroes—biblical, historical and fictional. I hope, through this, you’ve learned something about me. Now it’s your turn: Who are your heroes? Why them? Let your own hall of heroes be a source of personal inspiration and a means of forming deeper connections with those in your biblical community. The characters who shape our characters are worth celebrating and sharing.