How to Be Known as a Hero

It’s hardwired into all of us. At least I hope it’s not just me.

I feel it deep down where stuff really matters. I’m talking about that desire be known as a hero.

As a Catalyst leader pondering how you want to be known, I’m thinking you probably want to be known as a hero, too.

What It takes to Be a Hero

No, I don’t need a cape. I wouldn’t suggest it for you either. As we know from The Incredibles, capes can be complicated things. And I definitely don’t need anything involving spandex. Trust me.

But I still want to be known as a hero, as someone whose exploits are talked about long after I’m gone. As an inspiration to the next generation of leaders. As an encouragement to all those struggling to step out of the boat in answer to Christ’s call.

Even if I don’t have some cryptic letter emblazoned on my chest. Even if no one ever knows my name. Even if I die trying.

God’s Looking for Heroes

The Apostle Peter put the call to be known as a hero this way:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.... For if you do these things, you will never fall....” (2 Peter 1:3-10, NIV) 

According to John MacArthur (a guy who knows a little about Bible stuff), the word translated goodness here has its origins in the Greek word transliterated arête. Don’t freak out! I’m not going all Greek on you. It’s just a word that refers to acts of excellence that are worthy of the gods. So -- heroic stuff. The stuff they’ll tell legends about later. The stuff most of us look at and quit before we start. The stuff everyone thinks can’t be done – until someone does it.

But if God’s “divine power has granted to us all things” how can we not act on our faith to do heroic deeds when Peter says that’s just the first step? Put another way, a hero is someone who follows God when everyone else thinks  it’s impossible. Come to think of it, the Great Commission given by Jesus himself is a call to courageously tackle the most heroic deed of all – making disciples.

Why Our Why Matters

If our goal is simply to be famous, then we’ll likely fail in our pursuit of the heroic. As Brad Lomenick put it in The Catalyst Leader, “We need humble leaders who quietly accomplish great feats without dragging along the tumor of pride.”

If our goal is simply to get a comic book, or a church, or even a statue in the park named after us, then we’ve got an issue.  But if we’re acting courageously for what we say we believe, look out. The Man of Steel will have nothing on us when mountains start moving.

How to Be Known as A Hero

Here are few steps to follow when seeking to be known as a hero for all the right reasons:

  1. Get Clear on What You Believe. Like Peter said, the foundation is your faith. If you don’t know what you’d die for, you won’t know what to live for. Take the time to write down your core beliefs that direct your moral compass to true north.
  2. Dare to Dream Big. Jesus didn’t call us out of darkness and into his marvelous light for us to hide our heroic efforts in a closet. I’ll go ahead and say it: with great calling comes great responsibility. Ask “What if….?” Dream big about how you might try something worthy of your calling to follow Christ.
  3. Question the Walls. It never fails. The first thing we do when dreaming big is to start building walls from the reasons  it can’t be done. Challenge your assumptions. Then, go ahead. Try knocking that wall down. At least push on it. Or leap over it. I think I’ve heard somewhere before that with God all things are possible.
  4. Go Do Something. It’s like this -- if you never do anything, you’ll never be known as anything. So get busy. Faith is not so much an event as a process. The more steps you take away from the boat, the greater your capacity to keep walking.

If you’re waiting for permission to be a hero, stop. You’ve already got it. "I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples...." 

Ya. What He said.

Do you want to be known as a hero? What tips do you have for other leaders who want to be known for doing something heroic for Christ?