At Work

We Need True Heroes More Than Ever. So How Does the Bible Define a Hero?

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When my son was younger, he watched The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, a Veggie Tales movie, all the time. A royal family needs rescuing from an evil tyrant. At one point, a fight breaks out on a pirate ship transporting the family.

One of the pirates proclaims:

Where are the heroes? We need some heroes!

Where are the heroes, indeed! There are many cultural narratives about heroism. Some are biblical. Some aren’t. So how does the Bible define a hero?

How the Bible Defines a Hero

When I think of heroism in God’s terms, I think of Romans 15:1-2.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

This verse describes the different characteristics of heroism:

  • Helping those in need.
  • Buttressing the weaknesses of others with our strengths and vice versa .
  • Contributing to the welfare of our neighbors.

These are all active words. Being a hero means being a helper, supporter, and friend.

Hollywood portrays heroes in quite a different light: they have supernatural powers and wear capes. As much as I enjoy a superhero movie, I think this is a sad definition of what being a hero means. It’s sad because it’s intangible.

Since I can’t fly and I can’t always discern good guys from bad guys, how can I be a hero?

The Bible defines being a hero as helping those who in need. We need to offer our strengths to others to support their areas of weakness.

Pursuing Your Vocation Is Heroic

This is how God calls us to love and serve others. He has created each of us specifically, uniquely, and with purpose. God makes no mistakes. Psalms 90:17 tells us that God has established our vocation:

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.

It is through our work that we can make the greatest contributions to God’s kingdom. It is through the work of our hands that we offer our strengths where others are weak.

Have you ever thought about that? There are many things that I am incapable of producing because I was not born with the special skills they require. But each of our strengths can support those areas of weakness in others.

We accomplish this through work and trade. God created us with unique talents and skills because he knows we are incapable of being able to do everything on our own. So through our work we are brought into community with one another, to help those who are weaker and support our neighbors.

To recap, a hero is someone who is:

  • Obediently following God’s will for their life.
  • Sacrificing for their neighbor.
  • Lifting up those who are weak.

Remember David and Goliath: what makes a hero is not size, stature or supernatural powers. What matters is obedience, faith, and the pursuit of excellence within the work we are called to carry out.

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  • ChipWatkins

    Anne Bradley’s article suggests that everyone is (or can be) a “hero” if they are simply obeying God’s word in ordinary circumstances. This eviscerates the common understanding of who is a “hero.”
    Colloquially, a hero is someone who displays extraordinary courage or skill to accomplish, or attempt to accomplish, a worthy purpose. In Dictionary.com, a hero is defined as “a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character” and “a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and it regarded as a role model or ideal.”
    In Hebrews 11, Paul recites a (non-exclusive) list of men and women who exercised faith in unusually challenging circumstances, and though not calling them “heroes,” specially commends them.
    If Ms. Bradley is correct, then everyone can be a hero, and consequently, no one is a hero, because no one is extraordinary.

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