When Heroes Fail

We’ve all had them: people in our lives who seemed bigger than life, infallible, on a pedestal, almost perfect. Maybe we looked up to them, wanted to be like them, modeled our speech, our walk, our dress, or our very lives after them: A mother, a father, a pastor, a mentor, a friend, an athlete, a celebrity. Who have you tried to emulate? It isn’t always a bad thing. We learn from example, pattern, and repetition; but, being needy, imperfect people, sometimes we step outside the design of simple instruction. Sometimes we find ourselves in search of, and overly dependent on, a person, a potion, or a possession to satisfy an inner craving or fill an empty void. What happens when we make our “heroes” too big, too perfect, or too infallible…and then they fail? At least.. they fail and are not perfect by our standards? By our expectations? For our needs?brokenchurch

When I was a baby Christian, I attended a small, rather legalistic church. Looking back, it was a God-given provision, much needed at that particular time in my life: rigid rules and stringent boundaries. But I found myself very dependent on the pastor. If he believed it, it must be right because he was amazing. He was my hero. I had no real belief system- no roots, no free thinking, no discernment. Of course, I was only seventeen. Do many seventeen year olds actually think?  🙂

The world says “The bigger they are the harder they fall.”
Proverbs 16:18 says  “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
He fell hard. But this isn’t really about his fall. It’s about me putting him where he didn’t belong. Maybe this is more like it:
 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Rom 3:23
So many injured souls who may have once been someone’s hero: The pastor caught in adultery? The raging, angry parent? The stubborn, unreasonable friend? The withdrawn, inattentive spouse? The wayward, prodigal child? The heartless abuser? The hopeless addict? The treacherous deceiver? The embittered, unforgiving soul? How many do you know? How many have you been?
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Rom 8:1

This is not meant to accuse, to judge, or to cast stones. This is an opportunity to take inventory and test our visual acuity. There is only one infallible model. One example. One path. One place to fix our eyes.

For King And Country has a song titled “Fix My Eyes.”
Hit rewind, click delete
Stand face to face with the younger me
All of the mistakes
All of the heartbreak
Here’s what I’d do differently, I’d Love like I’m not scared
Give when it’s not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on You
We are broken, needy people who often look for answers or fulfillment in the wrong places or in people who are also broken and unable to meet our expectations, fulfill our deepest longings, and touch our empty places deep inside. There will be inevitable hurt, confusion, and disappointment. We may blame others, ourselves, or God as we hide beneath the weight of all the hurt, unmet needs, accusations, and expectations. We may continue to struggle with distorted relationships and hindered spiritual growth. Even knowing this and having walked through it in the past, I still sometimes find myself looking at people, especially mature Christians, and expecting a certain performance or perfection. Not only is it impossible, but it isn’t biblical and it isn’t in their job description or on their Christian to-do list! Expecting fulfillment or perfect performance from others only creates disillusionment and hurts relationships. It doesn’t speak negatively about them, it just reinforces my continued need for growth, maturity, and change of expectation.
Maybe this week, I’ve been someone’s failed “hero” in need of correction or, even better, mercy. Yes, I’ve said things I didn’t mean and I even lost my temper in traffic while my teenager was in the car. Maybe I was a little less patient at work. Maybe I even rolled my eyes a few times. But there is grace. There is mercy. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required. I have fallen, have failed, and will fail again. But I find solace in this:
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8