Child pretending to be a superheroFred’s book You and Your Network outlined 8 categories which belong in your web of associations which form a healthy life. One of them is “heroes.” He frequently asked people about their heroes for he believed the answer gave him great insight. Fred once read that our heroes at age 10 strongly influence our adulthood.

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Thomas Carlyle said, “Society is founded on hero worship.” History is the story of the impact of great men and women. They shaped their times for good.

But occasionally we need to stop saying great things about our heroes and ask what they would say about us. They can become the verbs in our lives.

Heroes must survive for a long time as examples of trustworthy values, in season, and out. It is not just being a winner today that creates a hero. The apostle Paul deserves hero status. Conversely, I know of very few men who emulate Nero. Today we name our children Paul and our dogs Nero.

Generally, heroes are from the past in order to allow history to study their lives and make sure they stand up to the test of time. Excellent heroes can be said to “finish well.”

We should know how to make ourselves small by comparison to our heroes. By humbling ourselves in this positive, healthy, way we see ourselves in light of the values we inherit from our heroes and are able to honestly assess whether we’re progressing in virtue. It is this discipline that always inspires and makes room for growth.

In “A Psalm of Life,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime and, departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time.” Our daughter, Brenda, knew how I enjoyed these lines. On my study wall is a framed board covered with sand and three small footprints – those of her children then ages one, three, and four. In her quiet, persuasive way she was reminding me my grandchildren’s footsteps are walking somewhat behind my own.

In 2004, my death was momentarily anticipated. In my hospital bed I prayed for my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, hoping they would see in me a man of faith. Today in 2006 I still pray to be a faithful model. Heroes don’t have to be famous – they only have to be heroic.

Whose footsteps are you following?

This week think about: 1) Who was my hero at age 10? 2) How do I look for heroes? 3) What heroic qualities am I hoping to instill in others?

Words of Wisdom: “Whose footsteps are you following?”

Wisdom from the Word: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NET Bible)