My friend David Cross passed away last year. He was a great encouragement to me. Pastor Cross was a man who consistently lived out what he believed about the Bible. Was he perfect? According to the Bible, no, he was not. Did I ever personally find fault in him? Not that I can remember.
He was the long-time pastor of the church my family and I attend. Though I only knew him well the last 4 years of his life, I first met him 15 years before he passed away. During the early years of knowing Pastor Cross I enjoyed seeing his consistency in the ministry though I was not around him regularly. During the last 4 years, when I attended his church, my respect for him grew even more.
I think it is easy to overlook the faults of those we consider to be heroes. And we certainly should not get our eyes off of Christ and place the actions and words of men above the actions of Christ and the words of the Bible. However, we are told in the Bible to be good examples to others (1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 5:3). Therefore, I think we should look to others who are good examples for us.
Too Much Hero Worship
I heard someone say one time that they did not enjoy going to the church because of the “hero worship” that went on there. My friend was specifically talking about the praise that was given to Pastor Cross for his many years of service at the church. But the person generalized the point about hero worship to apply to everything that the pastor did. This person felt like you could not go to the church if you did not worship the pastor.
I was confused and surprised by his comments. I certainly did not feel like anyone made worshiping the pastor a requirement to be in the church. But as I thought about my friend’s comments more I think I know what might cause that attitude.
Motivation or Conviction?
If you see another person’s actions (or lifestyle) as a positive motivation for you then you don’t necessarily see your relationship with the person as hero worship. (When I use the term “hero worship” here I mean it in the negative connotation that my friend meant it.) You view the person’s good example as an encouragement and motivation for you to do right in your own life.
However, if the lifestyle of the one who you feel others are worshiping is convicting to you, then I can see where you may want an excuse to step away and get out from under the influence of that person.
As stated earlier, there is no question about placing other people above our respect and reverence for the Bible and our Lord Jesus. We probably all know of inordinate loyalty to a man. Sadly I have seen a few preachers through the years who have amassed a group of people who would blindly follow them anywhere and do anything for them. Many times this is demonstrated by a dictatorial spirit. This is not the type of good example I am talking about.
What we need are people in our lives who are more spiritually mature and can help encourage us to live right and do right. We should follow good examples. Furthermore, we should be good examples.
If you start to be convicted by the life of another Christian and think that there is hero worship going on, you should step back and check your own reasons for feeling this way. Is it because there is something really wrong with the other person? Or is it because God is using that other Christian to bring conviction to you?