The other day I was talking to my sister about role models and heroes.


What makes a person a good role model or even a hero? I have been blessed to know several good and honorable men and women. All of these wonderful people had one thing in common. In one way or another, each of them influenced others through the way they lived their lives. They helped others to become better people, to become the people that God had envisioned them to be.


How would you define greatness? Would you define greatness as the world might? Great generals who lead armies of men in heroic struggles? Influential politicians, who shape the course of world history? Executives, that manage great corporations that provide jobs for thousands of people and the products we all need? Both of my grandfathers and my father were all great men, despite never having done any of these grand things.


Perhaps instead of judging greatness by the scale of a person’s accomplishments, we could try to see others as God sees them. We might find a way of defining greatness in a way that values things like caring, loving, and giving of ourselves. I am reminded of my friend Suzanne who had a knack for seeing a need and then inspiring others to join her in turning dreams into realities.


Here are some real heroes: The men and women in our military, the police, and the fire departments. Let’s not forget the teachers who devote their lives to educating our children and preparing them for the future. And where would we be without the doctors, nurses, and the countless other people working in our hospitals and clinics that devote their days to caring for those who are sick and injured?


All of these are great undertakings, most of which require a lifelong commitment and devotion. There are, however, some other and more casual but equally important paths to greatness. Youth sports programs are always in need of adult volunteers. Want to do something that will change people’s lives? If you do, try mentoring, tutoring, or even just reading to children. Then there is one of my favorites, donating blood on a regular basis. Just between you and me, being a blood donor is one of the easiest ways to save another person’s life — and if you haven’t done so lately, it might be about time.


Big or small there is a task with your name on it. There is a place for you to serve, and opportunities abound for you to be a hero, to be a person that others can look up to and follow.


Let me close with some advice from the Bible. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (NIV)


John R. Fowler. John is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prosper.