I specifically remember a time when I was so very smart and wise, in junior high, and an adult asked me if I “could have dinner with any 5 people in the world, living or dead, who would it be?” I’m pretty sure I answered, “the Olsen Twins (does that count as 2?), Hilary Duff, Jennifer Garner, Princess Diana, and okay I guess MK&A are their own people.”
Then I had to explain to said adult who 4 out of 5 of those people were. Maturity shows signs early, people.
On the other end of the spectrum, most of us will answer this question with well-deserved family members. “She raised me, and now I see lots of sacrifices there, so yeah. She’s my hero.” Don’t get me wrong, family members make excellent heroes. I wish everyone could say their parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles were their heroes and role models.
Still, there are more. There are lives worth watching, and as I’ve been reading this book lately, it has me thinking.
Eric Metaxas got my attention a couple years ago, when I read his brilliant biography of Deitrich Bonhoeffer, who happens to be famous for writing a few brilliant books on the faith (see here & here). Bonhoeffer also happened to be a martyr for what he believed and also played a significant role in an assassination plot against Hitler himself.
While the Bonhoeffer biography is well-worth reading, it’s long. I realize not everyone has a biography fetish like myself (if you do, definitely check out his other full-length biography on the inspiring William Wilberforce, who spearheaded and accomplished the abolition of the slave trade).
So, if you’re of the short-attention-span type, go read 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness. Even if you only read the introduction, it will be worth it.
Metaxas claims our culture is “loath to point to anyone as a good role model.” This is for a number of reasons, but he also (correctly) argues how much we need heroes and role models. “Seeing and studying the actual lives of people is simply the best way to communicate ideas about how to behave and how not to behave” (Metaxas, intro page xiv).
As I have been studying the lives of these men, some of whom I knew nothing of previously, this idea of great manhood has emerged. Contrary to culture, the patterns exposed here claim strength as a means to stand up for the weak. Noble sacrifices abound in these lives, setting examples worthy of being followed.
Who are your heroes? This is a book about men in history (none are still living), but who would you add to the list? For simplicity’s sake, let’s keep it historical, and non-family (unless you happen to be related to Princess Diana. In which case, she’s already on my list, clearly).
Also, who are the historical women would you mark as truly great?