We need heroes. I mean genuine heroes, authentic men and women who are admired for their achievements, noble qualities, and courage. Such people aren’t afraid to be different. They risk. They stand a cut above. Yet they are real human beings with flaws and failures like anyone else. But they inspire us to do better. We feel warm inside when we think about this rare breed of humanity. The kind we can look up to without the slightest suspicion of deception or hypocrisy. The kind who model excellence when no one is looking or for that matter when half the world is looking.
I’m concerned that we seem to be running shy of folks like that. Certainly, there are some, but not nearly as many, it seems, as when I was a small boy. Back then I distinctly recall looking up to numerous people in various segments of society—politics, athletics, education, science, the military, music, religion, aviation—all of whom not only stood tall during their heyday, but they finished well. Society mourned their passing. This was no childhood fantasy, you understand; these were not make-believe movie idols. I can still remember my dad being just as impressed as I was with certain folks—maybe more so. Some of our father-son conversations are still logged in my memory bank. And because he was inspired, so was I.
You may be surprised to know that for any number of people, you are the person others point to. It may be in the place where you work, and no one has even told you. It may happen where you live, and no neighbor has been brave enough to encourage you by saying, “You’re the one everybody watches. You’re very unique. We all respect you.” It may be in your school where you are admired by colleagues and peers. If you knew how many felt that way, I’m convinced you would be all the more careful how you live.
I am certain of this—if you are one of those people, then you’re not like the majority. You’re living differently, and I commend you for it. It takes unusual people to make a difference in our world. Mediocre people impact no one, at least not for good. But one person of truth can impact the whole world!
Excerpt taken from Dear Graduate: Letters of Wisdom from Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2007 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.