Many a fine word has been written about the importance of having heroes, those we can look up to and aspire to imitate or emulate. Maybe you aspire to out do Martha Stewart with her home decor or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body building prowess or maybe the sharpshooting skill of Chris Kyle – in any case they set a standard for us to strive too.
To my recollection as a child my heroes were Flint from GI Joe, Optimus Prime from Transformers, and possibly Jayce of Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors. As I grew my heroes changed from celluloid animations to men and women of flesh and blood. In my late teens to early 20’s I read Men’s Health magazine almost religiously. It was there that I read my first article speaking to the need and impact a hero can have on your life. As a person of faith I hesitate to use the word ‘idol’ but in truth that’s probably a more accurate a term.
Now that I’m sneaking up on … well, perhaps it’s more accurate to say barreling at full speed, toward my 40’s I have come to realize the value of these objects of aspiration. But for myself I find that I need more than one, a benchmark for the different aspects of life. In thinking of the spirit the ultimate Spiritual authority of Jesus Christ is obviously top of the list along with the likes of Billy Graham, A. W. Tozer, and N. T. Wright. Henry Cavil, Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth, and Sam Heughan (yes those links to shirtless pictures, and you’re welcome ladies) are body types I will hopefully one day obtain through eating right, exercise, and training; as wishful thinking hasn’t gotten me very far. But my mind … I don’t know that I’ve ever taken the time to consider the type of mind that intrigues me. There are several individuals who’s character I hold in high esteem … Richard Winters being one. But this is a very short-list. I recently added another. Meet Shelby Foote.
If you’re a fan of Ken Burns then you probably got to know Shelby Foote in his series, ‘The Civil War’. Shelby was actually an accomplished author before appearing on Ken Burns PBS special but certainly received near celebrity status following the airing. He’s written nearly a million words but is best known for his work “The Civil War: A Narrative“. I appreciate him as a historian, an author, and as a communicator. But what I like best about him is his voice. He doesn’t shy away from his southern roots and try to hide behind some learned mid-west tone. He’s intelligent and able to see both sides of an argument. Take a listen to his observations on the Flag of Dixie. I’m not sure when this was recorded as Shelby died in 2005, long before the uproar in recent years. But listen how he shapes the argument and places understanding on both sides. My point is not whether or not I agree with his position, though I think it’s a valid one, but rather the way he communicates puts you at ease and opens you up for a good conversation.
There are plenty other videos on YouTube. Take the time to check them out. Thanks to my friend for re-introducing me to this character of a man.
Take the time and evaluate the heroes in your life. Do not look for perfection but instead attributes that you wish to aspire too. For example, Billy Graham isn’t perfect, but no one can doubt the impact he had on evangelism in America nor can you dispute his presence and ability to write and deliver a sermon.