There are men whose teachings and writings I find encouraging. These men’s lives seem worthy of emulating and they have ministries or businesses that inspire. When they speak I find myself saying, “Yes, yes, amen.” What they say resonates with my own views and opinions and many times they challenge my thinking. My life has been impacted by them and I am grateful for them.
The problem is that just when I find a contemporary ‘hero’, they fall. Sin gets them. It gets us all, but it seems intent on attacking those whom I desire to emulate. Because it has happened several times now, it causes me to be selective of those I seek to imitate.
By imitation I don’t mean that I try to make myself an exact imprint of another man. Only that there are aspects of their lives that inspire me to be more (or less). I can point to areas of my life that are a direct result of their teaching. Most of this has been good.
I don’t always agree with every theological point or practical application of teaching, but I learn from these men and leave better for the time invested reading or listening to them.
Dead heroes offer some benefits. Their sins have ended; there will be no more scandals. History can linger over the branches of their lives and discern the fruit. It’s easier to accept that they were fallen humans with problems from a distance. I learn from their mistakes but I don’t grieve over them the way I do when a contemporary man falls.
An interesting thing about contemporary hero failure is that is serves as a more acute warning. Failures from centuries ago provide lessons; those from my own time provide holy alarm to temptations in my own life.
My children will look up to me as a hero of sorts. What will they see? What lesson will my life provide? I pray they will see a humble man, a faithful man, a man consumed with Christ. I pray, by the grace of God, I won’t fail like some of my ‘heroes’.