Learning from Heroes
Stories of Great men can either inspire us to reach out for goals we usually hold ourselves back from or they can also be reduced to mere interesting stories of past if we don’t learn anything from them.
The monumental acts of Benaiah, from 3000 years ago, can both give you goosebumps and leave you incredulous. One man single-handedly chases a lion down, on a snowy day, into a pit and kills it. Even though the story has a ‘too good to be true’ ring to it, it is true . A boy takes on a giant, four times taller and heavier, with a sling and a stone; a fisherman walks on water; three young men walk into a fiery furnace and walk out of it without a scratch. All these stories are unbelievable, but they are true, historical and authentic. No matter how many times we talk about them, they are still going to cause some sense of wonder in somebody at some point of recollection.
Psychologists say that a person needs to hear something at least 16 times for that to turn into a Conviction. This is why we repeatedly hear and learn the same things in varied ways from nursery till we graduate from a university, and beyond. My point is, not only should we remember the brave acts of our heroes from the past but also hear about them more frequently.
Listening to these courageous acts has advantages. First of all, we will always find a new revelation of God’s character; we will be inspired to face our own nightmares and even end up learning a few tricks in the art of Lion hunting. Virtues such as faith, courage, patience and honour are always exemplified in these stories. These heroic stories pop into our minds at the right moment and fill us with hope. They are definitely beneficial and valuable.
Honestly, as Children of God we can’t sit in our comfort chairs and laud those who have chased lions in the past; and shrink away into our safe haven when faced with our own lions. I believe, the courageous acts of yesterday’s heroes are inspirations for today’s generation. They become useful if we ‘learn’ from them but are left useless if we just ‘listen’ to them.
While repeated listening is necessary for us to develop faith in God and build self-confidence, there is also a danger of losing the heat in the process. Sometimes it can weaken the essence. The effect caused by David’s epic battle with Goliath can be rationalised or played down rationalising the divine involvement as the source of victory; Inspirations emanating from such stories can fade away through the indifference developed by our familiarity with the story; and repeated failures in our attempts to live the inspirational heroic acts can water down our resolutions and leave us disillusioned.
As we begin to experience failures in our attempts to follow the footsteps of our heroes, the resolutions that are made in the beginning start to wither away. The initial fire, the vigour and the passion wane away. We feel disillusioned and defeated. Some of us even feel we are cheated into imitating our heroes. As our fire turns lukewarm, our 'response-ability' becomes apathetic the next time we hear of the same heroic act. That is, we don’t respond the same way we did at the beginning. Even though a person might be willing to learn much from a story, the passion for putting them to practice is eroded by the failures.
So what is the solution? How can we overcome these disadvantages and actually do something and inch closer to the elite club of achievers such as David, Joseph, Peter or Paul? Over the next six days we will go through, what I believe are the most effective skills we need to develop in order to attempt and achieve great goals like the heroes we are inspired by. They might sound familiar, but then they are sound.
But today, ask the Holy Spirit to begin to inspire you and to light a fire inside you for something great!