Where Have All the Heroes Gone?
Updated: Apr 26
Please forgive the critical tone of today’s post. I have been wrestling with the thought of a great and disgraceful exchange that has occurred in my lifetime: It is the swapping of heroes for celebrities. The question should be asked, “Where are the modern-day heroes?” I submit that they can only be found in the shadows. They exist, but they are no longer longed for by us and therefore they are no longer widely appreciated.
Honestly, are you able to name a current hero in the world who is held in high esteem by all? Perhaps one or two come to mind but it’s more likely that we could name 100 stars that own our headlines and excite our hollow hearts. Our young people do not look for heroes because they are flooded with an endless stream of celebrities. Heroes have grown dim and have been replaced by the poor lighting coming from stars.
Think with me: Heroes are created in times of crisis. Heroes are sacrificial and live by principle. Heroes do not care about their image because their cause is outside of themselves. Heroes make their purpose larger than their press clippings or online statistics. Heroes shine brightly and their light enables others to walk upon a better path. Heroes do not have time for fame’s pitfalls because they are too busy serving others. Heroes are highly aware that their clock is ticking and opportunity for doing good will one day cease. Heroes have a list of priorities and they place their own name at the bottom of that list — if their name makes the list at all. Heroes give off light that outlives them. I ask you again, how many heroes are you aware of that live amongst us?
Celebrities are a different story. They simply tell us that they are worthy to be observed as they bask in their own light. Their principles, if they exist, are always up for auction to the highest bidder. These shining stars excite many a fool and now we are in a generation which is fame-lusty and believes that, if we can only graduate to become the object of the media’s cameras, then we will have discovered our reason for living.
Celebrities appear out of nowhere; to become one there is only the need for heightened shallowness and favored timing. Good looks will help you become a star; good character will likely inhibit the process. Athletic ability will usher you into a life of privilege and power; however spiritual strength need not be on your résumé. If you are fortunate enough to be born an heiress, people will eventually close their Bibles and turn on their web browsers to follow your every step as you shop, pose, party and bed-hop. Why would someone want to live heroically when it is a much shorter process to seek to become a star?
Would it be ill-advised for a Christian to seek to live heroically? Most heroes are not renowned for being so until after their death. Yet, while they live, they seek a different purpose. They say along with a young shepherd named David, “Is there not a cause?” While others stand around debating and debunking, heroes put their hands to the plows and never look back.
I would be crushed to find out that my daughter would choose someone else other than me to be her hero. That’s not my ego talking, that’s the Spirit of God motivating me to fulfill my high calling of being a man of God to the one entrusted to my care. If my wife ever longed for a better or different husband than me, it would be a clear signal that I have failed in my primary role in life. Am I flawed? Of course, in many ways. But being flawed and being a failure are certainly not the same things. Who will be my wife’s knight in armor and my daughter’s human rock? If it is not me, then I have missed the mark. To become well-known to others while becoming poorly valued by my family would be an enduring shame.
Think on these things with me. Public applause or personal character will always be on your list of choices — not only in what you seek to cultivate for yourself but also in what you admire about others.
I’ve included three questions, that I believe every follower of Christ needs to ponder and honestly answer:
Who am I looking to for inspiration in life?
Who is it that I am inspiring in life, and to what end?
What must I begin to do to guarantee that I never exchange my desire for — and commitment to — heroic substance for the emptiness of celebrity shadows?