So here is part two of my hero list….
Titus – we see Titus as St. Paul’s associate. What I like about him is that Paul could count on Titus to do anything. Titus was Paul’s utility player: take care of some money transfers, do a church evaluation, step in as an interim pastor – Titus had lots of talent that God used. So he appeals to me because he was multi-talented and ministered in a broad context.
Bill Hybels and Mark Driscoll – these are two guys who both love Jesus and want others to know about Jesus, as well. They are both innovative and created models of ministry that are admirable. They are on opposite sides of one theological spectrum, which might be ironic except that they both very insistently point to Jesus. They are similar in that their younger days were marked by being both very effective and maybe a bit arrogant. They are both very committed to engaging their culture with the gospel.
(update in 2015) - of course, many in evangelicalism have heard the Mark Driscoll had an implosion. Of course, this is disappointing. Yet, while this speaks volumes about Driscoll's struggles with pride and his pastoral 'heart,' I hope this does not invalidate his Jesus-centered preaching and the mission to bring the gospel to Seattle-land. The messenger has shot himself, but much of the message is still valid.
(update in 2018) - and ... now Bill Hybels has been accused of sexual abuse and has resigned. While I could repeat the tenor of my update on Mark Driscoll, I have recently wondered if there is something else going on - a systemic problem with 'evangelical' leadership. Hybels - especially - promoted the young, charismatic, dynamic speaker, alpha-male model. The cracks are splitting - that model (as useful as it *might* have been) is failing the church and the Lord of that church, Jesus.
Bishop Irenaeus – he was born in the Orient, then ministered in Europe, and a man with a powerful love and concern for his church. He saw a faddish spiritual movement developing, recognized its toxicity for his flock, and took it upon himself to argue and refute that heresy of Gnosticism. In doing so, and not really intending to, he became the first systematic theologian of the church. His name means “peaceable” and he lived up to that moniker.
C.S. Lewis – I have a real respect for bright people who can communicate clearly. C.S. Lewis was once described by a close associate as “the clearest thinking man in Britain” because of the lucidity of his writing style. He came to Jesus later in life and turned his smarts towards explaining why following Jesus was the most obviously rational thing to do.
George Washington – people of my generation went through the 60’s when it was the cool thing to trash the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson excepted. But in college, I read a biography of Washington and found him to be a true hero. Not always the brightest man in the room (compared with others of the Founding Fathers), he was a man of character, courage, and talent. He made many mistakes but never repeated any of them and learned from them all. He was sacrificially dedicated to his new country.
Winston Churchill – very similar to George Washington for me: a late-bloomer, tenacious, dedicated to his nation, and a charmer. We think of Churchill today for his wit, which was considerable, but few knew that Churchill wasn’t much of a student, had a pretty obscure start as a politician, but kept plugging away until he was the man of the hour during the Second World War.
George Smiley – this is a fictional character born of ‘John LeCarre,’ a spy novelist. George is a master spy but as anti-James Bond as can be: middle-aged, un-athletic, bad with women, plenty of self-doubts, a powerful thinker, hated gadgets – the character of Smiley is very compellingly drawn by ‘LeCarre.’
So there are some common themes here. Dedication and purpose of life, character and integrity, talent and capacity, mostly intellectuals or bright people. These are my heroes.