The list of people I admire has changed. There are some names on that list you might be familiar with, but there are an increasing number who have escaped the hindrances of fame. Look-at-me people with great causes but shrill voices, are not making it onto the updated page. Obsequious, but prickly doormats remain where they dropped, still promoting and protesting victimhood in creative, but wearing passive/aggressive fashion. My current list is different than the list of approved heroes of my youth.
I admire strong but humble people, those who can both give and accept help, praise, and honour. I admire those who, enabled by God’s grace, can face their own weaknesses squarely, recognizing that the choice to act without grace is always there. Experience has taught them this. They have scars.
I appreciate those who can walk open-eyed into a mess with the vision of shalom peace, nothing missing, nothing out of place, and do it with cheerfulness. They smile before their tears have dried. Hope makes them fearless.
I am learning to listen to those who through consistent practice of the kind of risk-taking that faith requires, have gained an understanding of who to seek as their source of wisdom. They have a friendship with God that astounds me. They carry the scent of someone who has been in his presence.
I am amazed by people who are still stinging from a tongue-lashing yet respond with kindness on their own tongues. It’s not that they can’t come up with a witty but cruel response. Defensive words are probably still the first weapons to appear, but they know how to lay down Saul’s armour and go into the cache of weapons God designed for just such moments. Their weapons bear the characteristics of the Holy Spirit. They know how to wield patience and goodness. Power wrapped in soft gentleness makes it easier to hear their words of wisdom.
When I was young, I wanted to be like the famous people who had gifts and charms they had never earned, like beauty, and intelligence, status, and talent. I admired those who led their followers on to greater exploits. Now, when I grow up, I want to be like those heroes who lead from behind, who say with kindness, “I can see who you are becoming. Your own methods have given you some problems. Get back up. Keep your eyes on Jesus. You can do it. He’s calling to walk with him. He absolutely adores you, you know.”