Who do you look up to? Who do you “idolize”? Are there people who you would like to emulate? When I was a child, my parents made an effort to provide me with heroes to look up to. People like George Washington, Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, and Zorro (80’s television series), were my heroes. I was constantly provided with books that were written about real or fictional men who embodied the values and characteristics of gentlemen warriors. My father was definitely a gentleman, and apparently (I discovered later) somewhat of a warrior himself.
As an adult, I realize that my parents weren’t just choosing the literature and entertainment for their literary or artistic prowess. They were, in fact, striving to create in me a desire to be a certain kind of person. For that, I am very grateful. You see, we most often become like the people we surround ourselves with. I was artificially surrounded with great men and women from real and imaginary worlds. Throughout my life, I have always felt a drive to become more like those people. While I am nowhere near achieving the kind of greatness that William Wallace, Chesty Puller, or Baden Powell reached, I believe that I have begun to embrace and employ many of their values and virtues.
This didn’t happen just by osmosis however. Somewhere along the line, I had to make a choice. That choice was either to follow the easy path, or choose to walk the steep slopes of discipline, dedication, honor, and love that were placed before me. You see, WE ARE WHO WE CHOOSE TO BECOME. No matter where life puts us, we are ultimately the ones responsible for the content of our lives. We can choose to love, sacrifice, and strive to become something better than we were yesterday, or we can simply be satisfied with our current state. Unfortunately for many, they do not realize that to stand still is to move backward. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we can never rest or find contentment in our circumstances. Instead it means that we can find rest and contentment knowing that we are on a long journey that will only end when we leave this mortal body. We take steps up the mountain, turn to enjoy the view and breathe, and then strive on to a new level.
The book of Proverbs states very plainly “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Prov 13:20, ESV). Almost every world religion or values system says something similar. If you hang out with crummy people, you will become a crummy person. If you hang out with wise people, you will become wise. Making the choice to surround yourself (either literally or artificially) with people you regard as wise and good, is one of the first steps in becoming the kind of person you wish to become! While you may not ever become a pro athlete, 5 star general, or super hero, you will in some ways embody the values of your heroes and you may eventually be remembered by those in your circle of influence as someone to look up to and emulate.
Take a few minutes today to think about the person you would like to become. It may take you months or years to know exactly who you want to be, but begin today to look at the people you surround yourself with. See if they are helping you upward on the journey or guiding you away from the values you hold dear. Happy climbing!