Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hero or Villain

Last year, on one of my business trips, I gave a talk on heroes. Since then, that short lecture has probably generated more conversation than any of my other speeches. Generation Joshua even did a blog series on heroes, loosely based on my talk. One question I still get is: what makes a hero? To answer that question, I’d like to journey back a few years to my time at college. During that time, AIM was big and my screen name was TheB1ackPrince. Several people asked me why I would choose a name like “the Black Prince.” 
First, on the Black Prince:

If you’re not the kind of person who likes to read about medieval British wars, you may not know who the Black Prince was. He was the Prince of Wales during the 14th century, and was famous for turning the odds in battles and grasping victory from the jaws of defeat. He is also infamous for commissioning the Massacre of Limoges, an incident involving the death of around 3,000 Frenchmen. Given this, why would I use the name of someone so clearly flawed?

As I’ve said many times before, I don’t think that my heroes need to be perfect. In fact, I like it when they have lots of flaws; if they can do great things with their faults, I might be able to do something even with all of mine. At the moment, many heroes come to mind, each with many weaknesses (sins).  King David is undisputedly a biblical hero, one we should look to with admiration and respect. He, however, also fell—and fell far—despite being a man after God’s own heart. Does that disqualify him from being a hero? No! He’s still a hero in my book; he’s still a hero listed in the New Testament.

Then, I look at other heroes: I admire Martin Luther King Jr. and his great work to fight racism in America, and I mourn his personal failings. I esteem President Reagan and his amazing triumphs in contributing to the downfall of the Soviet Union, and I lament his failure to have real friends. I read about President Lincoln and the way he almost single-handedly held my country together, and at the same time I learn about his family failures. I revere the upright honor of Robert E. Lee, but I grieve his choice to fight for the South that cost so many lives. I stand amazed at the words and ideas put forward by Thomas Jefferson, while at the same time, I bewail his utter lack of self-restraint to live out his ideals of virtue and freedom in his own life.

Do these varied shortcomings disqualify these men as heroes?  No, not at all.  God used each of these men to do great things that still impact me today, years later. They made choices just like we do. Sometimes they made the right choices and sometimes they were the wrong ones. But I choose to learn from and be inspired by the good things my heroes did. I look at myself, and see many shortcomings. But I hope that, despite my blunders, I can struggle onward and leave a legacy, much as my heroes did.

If you want to point out the errors of my heroes: go right ahead. And if you want to do the same to my errors: that works too. I know I have many flaws, and I make many mistakes. God, however, is a merciful God who will use me despite my shortcomings.

Heroes come in different shapes and sizes. But if they inspire you to fight on and do what’s right, then they have done their job. I guess the next question is: are you going to let your flaws turn you into a villain, or are you going to rise above your faults and inspire others by defeating the villain within you and becoming a hero?

Post by Jeremiah Lorrig
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...