“We’re not heroes.”

But It Is Possible to Become a Hero

In the Walt Disney film adaptation of C.S. Lewis classic The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the Beavers explain to the Pevensie children why they have come to Narnia and what their destiny is. Incredulous at the Beavers’ insistence that they are somehow the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, Peter Pevensie (William Moseley) tells the Beavers, “I think you’ve made a mistake. We’re not heroes.” Despite his protests to the contrary, the Beavers remain convinced that the Pevensies are indeed the warriors who will save all of Narnia and one day become its rulers.

heroes

Just like Peter Pevensie, in any situation we face, we feel we know ourselves. But in fact, we may know ourselves too well. Like Peter, we think we know who we are. When opportunities for greatness appear, we feel we are not qualified. When the hero’s entrance is announced, we look for someone else. We don’t suppose that it could actually be ourselves.

But Peter’s confession is the seed of true greatness. When we admit that we’re not heroes, we aren’t trying to fool ourselves into believing that we are better than we are. At the same time, we cannot disqualify ourselves from the assignment God has prepared for us. We should admit that we’re not heroes, but we should also believe that God could use us to be more than we believed possible. In other words, it’s fine to say, “We’re not heroes,” but we should also be willing to become heroes.

Becoming a hero is easier than being a hero. But it requires intentional thinking to know where you’re headed. Ask yourself these questions to focus your mind on the direction you want to go.

New Situations Require New Paradigms

Do you want to get what you’ve always got?

When I was in sixth grade, I was pretty good at guessing. I couldn’t see the blackboard that well from where I sat, so I learned how to recognize the patterns of the letters and numbers. But when I was preparing to go to junior high, I thought it would be worth getting glasses so that I could see the board. I knew I would be at a new school with new kids I had never met before, so I figured that would be a good time to make the change and get new glasses. If I wanted to see the board, I realized I would have to make a change. I couldn’t expect to see the board without doing something different. As much as I didn’t want to have glasses, I wanted to be able to see the board more. So I was willing to make a change. Because new situations require new paradigms.

Paradigms

You will face similar situations in your life. You may not want to have to change, but you will feel the pain of not changing is greater than the discomfort of doing something different.

I tell my clients all the time that if you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got. The thinking that brought you to where you are is not usually the thinking that will get you to where you want to go. You have to be willing to change the way that you think. Because new situations require new paradigms.

Based on the parable Jesus told in Luke 5:36-39, here are three ways people resist making changes in how they perceive things.

How Well Do You Represent Your Employer?

Be Aware of Your Attitude in the Office and Out of the Office

Many years ago I worked for a guy I’ll call Greg. Working with Greg was awkward. He badmouthed his boss in the office, but in public he spoke favorably about him. To outsiders, he seemed like a good team player, but those of us who worked for him knew otherwise. Then Greg got a promotion that gave him even greater autonomy. His role involved more travel and he had more opportunities to represent his boss and the organization. While he was competent at what he did, he still did not have a positive opinion of his boss.

Represent Your Employer

One day, Greg’s opinions caught up to him. He was dismissed for disloyalty to his boss and to the organization. Despite getting caught, he did not express remorse over how he handled the situation. Instead he blamed his boss.

When Greg said disparaging things about his boss, it was less a statement about his boss and more a statement about himself. While he represented his boss he also represented himself, and what he said about his boss within the office reflected poorly on himself.

When you represent your boss, you also represent yourself. How you conduct yourself representing your employer says a lot about you. Perhaps you complain about your employer to others so that they will join you in complaining about their employers. At best, it drags you down to a lower level. At worst, it poisons your relationship with other people and damages your prospects at getting employed elsewhere.

It is up to you whether you change your attitude and choose to represent yourself and your employer in a way that honors both you and your company. No one can improve your attitude for you. You have to be the one who will decide to change your attitude.

Whether you deal directly with customers or not, you represent your employer to people in your sphere of influence. Here are three areas in which you should monitor your attitude to represent yourself and your organization well.

What Does Integrity Mean to You?

Is Your Sunday Separate from Your Monday?

Before I started Transformational Impact LLC, I worked with my friend Ben Case. Ben is reputedly one of the best major gift fundraisers in the world, having helped nonprofits raise more than $4.8 billion in his 41 years in fundraising and nonprofit management. Ben has also been a hallmark of honesty and integrity as long as I have known him. He tells a powerful story to explain the importance of integrity.

Integrity

I was in a meeting with my wife, Angela, and Robert McFarland, at the time a consultant with our company. … I was deeply resisting something Angela insisted I do. Angela thought that, as a business owner, I was required by law to do this. Our lawyer acknowledged there were “gray areas” as to the applicability of the law to our work. Give me “gray areas” and I will run with it forever. I did not want to do what Angela was telling me to do! Then Robert, who had been observing the discussion and my strong resistance, simply asked, “Ben, when are you going to have integrity—some of the time or all of the time?”

Live with integrity. In the walk of life, you will always be glad you did. Integrity means all the time. …

I did follow my wife’s advice, and am glad I did.

As Ben said, integrity means all the time. It is possible to be honest in one situation but not in another, but you can’t choose to have integrity one day and not the next. It’s all or nothing. Either you have integrity or you don’t.

In his book The Deeper Life, Daniel Henderson gives a good definition of integrity: “Integrity is a life where all the pieces fit together.” If you have integrity, then your life is integrated. You are not one way with some people and another way with other people. You are the same person all the time.

Henderson also explains what integrity is not: “compartmentalization is the opposite of integrity.” If you have to keep one part of your life separate from the rest of your life, you lead a compartmentalized life. If your Sunday is separate from your Monday through Saturday, you do not have an integrated life.

Integrity is about being honest with yourself: you know the real truth about the person you see in the mirror. You may be able to fool other people, but you can’t fool yourself. And you have to be with yourself all the time, so you know if you are trustworthy.

You need to be trustworthy all the time if you want to be trusted all the time. Here are three things to keep in mind to help you exhibit integrity.

How Do You Define Yourself?

What Gives You Your Identity?

What makes you you? When someone says to you, “Tell me about yourself,” what do you say? Are you the profession you chose? Are you the organizations that you belong to? Or are you your ethnicity? What is it that you allow to define yourself?

define yourself

Many people assume their identity stems from who they believe they are, and many take their identity from external realities. When asked what they do, they respond, “I am an architect.” Or “I am a dentist.” By responding that way, they allow their profession to define them.

Others define themselves by the organizations they are part of. They may say, “I am the NRA.” Or “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” I think it’s great to be part of organizations. God made people to be relational, so it is perfectly fine to be part of organizations. But when people allow organizations to define them to the point of giving them their identity, then that becomes a problem.

Then there are others who allow themselves to be defined by their ethnicity. They may describe themselves as Scottish, or Chinese, or African (all three of those ethnicities live in my house), and I think it’s great to be proud of your ethnic heritage. But when your ethnicity defines who you are, then you lose your identity to your national origin.

So how should you think about your identity? Here are three principles to guide your thinking in that context.

Clean the Barnacles off of Your Mind

Remove What Has Become Attached to Your Thinking

Have you ever seen barnacles attached to a ship? These little crustaceans latch onto a marine vessel and hold onto the ship to feed. While they may seem harmless enough, they cause many problems for the vessel. Similarly, you can have things that become attached to your mind over time. You may not be aware of them at first, but eventually they can cause you many problems.

barnacles

People who work on a ship understand that it’s important to remove the barnacles. In the same way, it’s important for you to get remove these things that have become attached to your mind.

Here’s what you want to prevent becoming attached to your mind, how they are similar to barnacles, and what you can do to clean those things from your mind.

An Eight-Point Checklist for a Healthy Outlook

What You Think About Will Affect How You See Everything

The thoughts that fill your head will affect how you live your life. How you think will determine not only how you act, but also how you see the world. What you think will define your outlook and who you will be.

outlook

You may not even be aware of the thoughts that you meditate on. They may come into your head and you may not even realize what is in your mind. But what takes residence in your mind will affect who you are and what you do.

The Scripture says you should take every thought captive and compare it to what Scripture says (2 Corinthians 10:5). So it’s important that you think about what you think about.

Using Philippians 4:8 as a template, here is an eight-point checklist for considering what you consider.

You Can Help Others Be Free

But First You Must Set Yourself Free

In the movie The Matrix (1999), the character Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) shares insights with his protégé Neo (Keanu Reeves) about what it means to be free and what it means to be captive: “Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.”

free

[Spoiler Warning: In this dystopian world, humans created artificial intelligence that took over the planet and subjugated humans as their source of energy to power the machines. Neo is one of these people who was oblivious about his captivity, but Morpheus offers him the opportunity to escape the captivity and understand what is truly real. Neo accepts the opportunity, and Morpheus proceeds to explain to him what “the matrix” is and what he can do to defeat it—as the fate of humanity depends on him.]

In The Matrix, Morpheus tells Neo:

The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. … It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

Like The Matrix, we are all born into a world where our mind is imprisoned. Like Neo, we must learn what “the matrix” is and how we can defeat it in our own lives.

Here are three things you must do to get yourself free from “the matrix” you were born into.

Learn to Love Your Identity

God wants you to be someone who is comfortable with your own identity. You should be who you are. And more importantly, you should not be who you are not.

identity

While it may seem obvious on the surface, that is not the norm with most people. As Henry David Thorough wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” They don’t know who they are, so they don’t know who they should be. They try to fit into molds created by other people, only to find that they don’t fit.

That is a sad way to live. In fact, that’s not really living. That’s just existing. And it doesn’t allow God to use the one life that you have to the fullest.

Life is meant to be an adventure. God wants you to trust that He knows how to fully actualize you. But that requires putting total faith in God to help you reveal who you are, and not try to fit someone else’s mold for you.

Oscar Wilde reputedly said to “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” While that may seem funny, it can be uncomfortably insightful to many. Because it requires that you must first know who you are.

If you have tried to fit into the molds that others have made for you, then here are three things you can do to step into your own identity.

Dedication Starts with These Five Words

The more dedicated you are, the more you will enjoy your work

When Noah started building the ark that God told him to build, it was a daunting task. Noah persevered with extraordinary dedication to accomplish a purpose that was beyond the scope of credibility.

Dedication

During that time, Noah would have likely dealt with ridicule from his neighbors. People may have come from miles around to watch and laugh at the man building the big boat. Considering that it may not have rained up until this point (Genesis 2:5-6), the idea of that water covering the whole earth would seem rather absurd—especially with the caveat that Noah and his family would be the only ones saved from it.

In spite the doubts resulting from the ridicule of his neighbors, Noah built a boat that was approximately 450-500 feet long, 75-85 feet wide, and 45-50 feet tall, with only his three sons to help him (Genesis 6:10; 7:13). It is therefore not surprising that this feat could have taken him 120 years (Genesis 6:3). During that period of 120 years, that is a long time to be focused on doing the same thing.

Noah must have suffered greatly at the hands (and mouths) of the people around him. Despite the difficulties, he knew that this work was what God called him to do.

The Apostle Paul echoes this idea in his letter to the Romans. Here are five words from Paul’s letter to the Romans that will help you develop the dedication to do what God has called you to do.