It’s the week many of us geeks have been waiting for. The Avengers have assembled once again! This weekend people all over the world will be running in movie theaters to find out what happens to our favorite group of super heroes. Will they be victorious? Will they overcome? What challenges will they face? And how will this movie wet our appetite for the next?
I love superheroes. From as early as I can remember, I was watching or reading something that involved some sort of hero. There were the Ninja Turtles, Batman, Spider-Man, and yes, I’ll even admit I was a 90’s Power Rangers fan. I don’t know what it was that drew me to such stories, but I think the main draw was the idea of being triumphant in the midst of adversity. Who doesn’t like a story about someone coming to the aid of others and vanquishing evil?
Marvel is projecting that the Avengers will make $280 million dollars over the weekend. It’s obvious that we all love heroes. We all love the idea of being triumphant in the midst of adversity. We are drawn to the idea of coming to the aid of others and vanquishing evil.
Because we love heroes, many of us try to be heroes. When we come against adversity, we pick up our shield, puff out our chest, and prepare for battle against our oppressor. Sometimes that oppressor is the Evil Boss Man, whose policies and character are bursting with evil. Sometimes that oppressor is the dastardly cold Wife X, whose plans of doom must be stopped. Sometimes that oppressor is Guy In Check Out Line, who needs to stop trying to touch my baby.
When we don’t have our own villain to face, we look for opportunities to run to the aid of others. Some of us like to play the hero I call The Defender. The Defender comes to the aid of the wounded and puts the oppressor in their place. It’s about time someone did! Thank you Defender! Some of us like to play the hero I call The Peace Maker. The Peace Maker gets involved in a conflict they have nothing to do with. Hey that’s what a hero does, right? The Peace Maker comes to share their thoughts on who is in the right and who is in the wrong. There is one hero we like to play most. I call this hero The Listener. The Listener listens. They listen and listen and listen. Sometimes they’ll listen to the same story for weeks, months, maybe even years.
I know being a hero is cool, but I’d like you to think about doing something else. Don’t be a hero. Stop trying to be a hero and instead try being something better. Let me explain. Last year I got the chance to hear from Donald Miller. Miller is a Christian author and speaker. The interviewer asked Miller what he had been up to and Miller explained that he had been taking some time to study super heroes. He said he recognized our love for heroes and our desire to be one. He then explained the difference between heroes and villains. He said, “Heroes are always flawed. They have to be or we would lose interest. They always have an external problem that challenges an internal problem. A villain is someone who cannot admit they are wrong and will not change.”
Take Batman for example. Batman felt powerless when his parents died. He felt like he should have been able to do something. He decided he would never feel like that again. So he went on to fight crime, beat up bad guys, and make sure no one goes through what he did. Batman’s greatest villains reminded him of those feelings of powerlessness. That’s why they are his biggest adversaries. The external problems they create bring his internal problems to the surface. Thank you, Donald Miller, for taking The Dark Knight and making him into a frightened man with abandonment issues.
So you’ve got your heroes, people who are trying to fix external problems in order to heal their own internal problems. Then there are the villains. People who will not admit they are wrong and will not change. Donald Miller says that neither of these are people you want to be. Both are broken and both need help. So then who are we supposed to be?
Donald Miller went on to explain that there is a third option. In every great superhero story there is The Guide. Every hero needs a guide. The Guide gives the hero the tools they need to overcome both the external and internal problem. The Guide doesn’t defend. The Guide doesn’t get in the middle of the conflict. The Guide doesn’t just listen or communicate information. The Guide helps their hero discover how to overcome. They help them change internally so they are equipped to handle things externally.
Batman had Alfred. Superman had his dad’s hologram. Iron Man had Jarvis and Pepper. The Ninja Turtles had Splinter. The Rangers had Zordon. What would these heroes be without their guides? The answer is broken individuals.
In Psalms, David thanks God for being his guide. In Luke, Jesus says that He has come to be a guide (Luke 1:78-79). Paul describes the Holy Spirit as a guide in most of his letters. Moses and John the Baptist were described as guides by Jesus. They are never called heroes.
If God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, and several other leaders are described as guides, what makes us think we’re supposed to be something different?
What if God’s desire for us isn’t to be a hero, but a guide? What would happen if we stopped playing The Defender, The Peace Maker, and The Listener and started being The Guide? What if we guided people to Christ so that they could find internal healing? What if we, instead of being a shoulder to cry on, equipped people to handle any external problem? What if we pointed people to the ultimate guide, The Holy Spirit? I think we’d experience a lot more victory if we focused on being The Guide. I think a lot more evil would be vanquished. I think the world would be a better place. Don’t be a hero, be a guide.