Mentor Someone

What Makes a Hero a Hero?

There are war heroes, there are church heroes. There are Biblical heroes, there are superheroes. There are tragic heroes, and there are anti-heroes. And still many other types of heroes that would be worthy of mention. Let’s look at the most common types of hero:

  • The war hero is the extraordinary veteran who has stepped up at least once and gone beyond the call of duty in a battle or series of battles. Many of these heroes go on to be elected or otherwise chosen to lead a country.
  • A church hero is characterized by having suffered for their faith and/or considered to have done miracles or similar. Usually notably ascribed to a specific religion.
  • The Biblical hero is distinguished from than the church hero mainly by the fact they are mentioned in the Bible. However, Biblical heroes are not always of a specific faith. Many are Jews, Gentiles or otherwise designated in the Christian Bible.
  • Tragic heroes suffer for a particular cause in popular literature.
  • An anti-hero, though wanting something for his/her heroism, still has at least one heroic thing attributed to their name.
  • The best-known and probably the least understood type of hero is the superhero. The superhero is on a never-ending mission to stop some form of evil from taking over the world or some part of it.

Why do we need heroes? We look to heroes to help us define the limits of our aspirations. We largely define our ideals by the heroes we choose because ideals — courage, honor, and justice (to mention a few) — largely define us. Our heroes symbolize for us of all the qualities we would like, and maybe even hope, to possess now or sometime in the future. They represent the ambitions we would like to satisfy. We hope, we dream, we even expect that these extraordinary people will show us the way to live a life worth living. We long to be like them and share their attributes. We need their courage to step out of our comfort zone to make wise and calculated decisions.

Our greatest desire may be that they themselves would personally step into our lives. If only for a brief time, they would encourage us as we walk through our daily routines with drive and determination. Yet many times they seem so perfect, so unbelievably flawless that we dismiss our own ability to reach their level of completeness.

While there are many differences in our hero types, there are similarities among them as well:

  • Many heroes discover their fate by their own actions, not by things simply happening to them.
  • If a hero fails, people may experience his/her fall with him/her.
  • The hero may be physically or spiritually wounded by his/her experiences, often resulting in his/her death. Yet, the suffering is meaningful.

Simply put, heroes put others’ needs above their own, regardless of the consequences. Never forget that real heroes only seem superhuman because there are so many anti-heroes. What does that say about us as Mentors? We are ordinary people dedicated to helping set people up to live a better life. A life of balance between fear and courage, a life given to causes, a life of passing on the wisdom gained.

Mentoring kids takes dedication and a drive to keep our own lives in balance. It requires a commitment to give and continuously search for wisdom. Kids are made to grow. They are made to soar. After all, they have the energy needed for both! Along with that energy, they need freedom with guidance, responsibility with understanding, and bravery with wisdom. Kids need heroes. Now of course, every child Mentor is not the right hero for every child. In general, however, whether that hero is male or female, old or young, he/she should be looking for opportunities. Mentors should be prepared to jump in where the opening presents itself. It may be a once in a lifetime opportunity or it may be once a week commitment. Where do we find these opportunities? Everywhere!

How do you know if you’re the right one? It’s always a good idea to look at our own heroes, past or present, and ask ourselves what they represent(ed) to us. Where did they help us grow? Why am I better because they took a few minutes, a few hours, or a few decades to feed into our lives? What did they sacrifice? Then ask, “What do I do well?” One of the best questions that anyone considering mentoring kids can ask is “What will I gain by mentoring a kid?” I am not implicating that it should be about us, the Mentors. However, if we are learning from those we teach, we are better people ourselves. Many times, the struggles we live through working with kids are worth it when we see their growth. However, it is even more exciting when we take a little something away in the form of wisdom for ourselves.

So, what makes a hero a hero? Well, as far as I can tell, heroism is in the eye and the heart of the beholder. It’s different for every person. There are countless ways to be a hero. What we see, feel and learn about being a hero came mostly from those who were/are our own heroes. We can take a little or a lot from them, make it our own, and live it out to the best of our ability.

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