We all have people who inspire us; role models, heroes. So, after a friend suggested writing about something along these lines, I decided to write a post about some of the people who I consider role models and why. Yes, most of them are Christian (when that’s such a big part of your life, it makes sense that those you look up to would share it with you), but not all of them are, as there are things that I admire in people that are not always directly related to faith.
J. R. R. Tolkien – I’m a Christian who loves fantasy fiction and dreams of being a published author, so Tolkien’s a pretty obvious inspiration for me. Of course, he is best known for his creation of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in the fantasy realm of Middle-Earth and I do admire him for the sheer enormity of the task he undertook. As well as this, his study of language (philology) fascinates me, and I share with him an interest in old religions. There is so much I can learn from him, even now, and that’s why he’s on this list.
C. S. Lewis – In my mind, C. S. Lewis is pretty much the pinnacle of non-canonical Christian writing. I know that there are others who develop the theology in their writing to a greater extent, and others who have undertaken to write more complex stories, but for me, Lewis is unrivalled in the clarity of his communication and in the sheer enjoyment that I get from reading both his fiction and his non-fiction. The Chronicles of Narnia are, rightly, his most famous achievement, but his ‘sort of’ autobiography, Surprised by Joy and his classic The Screwtape Letters have also been a source of great enjoyment for me. He was gifted with the ability to communicate profound Christian truths in a way that everyone can understand and enjoy.
Roger Federer – Bet you weren’t expecting this one! I have no idea if Federer has any religious faith, but the reason that I chose to include him on this list because he’s been a man at the top of his sport for most of my life and every time I see him speak I’m struck by how humble and how genuine he is. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tennis player come across as a bad person, but there’s something about Federer that sets him apart. Even if you have no interest in tennis, I think you can still appreciate this man’s example as someone who’s the best at what he does, but handles it exceptionally well.
John Cooper – The lead singer of the Christian rock band, Skillet, John Cooper is a good Christian role model because of this ethos which he and his band have. They are hugely popular in America, with a large secular audience as well as a Christian one. They know this and make their music accessible to all, touring with non-Christian bands as well as Christian ones. Does this mean they compromise? No! Their music has God at the core, with messages of hope and salvation. I once saw an interview with Cooper where he was talking about how he shared the gospel, and he said that with non-Christian gigs, he always prays beforehand and asks God to prompt him in how much to say to the audience. Sometimes he feels led to go all out and talk about Jesus, other times he is more subtle. Cooper, and by extension, Skillet, are great examples of how to bring the gospel to a secular world.
Joab – This might seem a bit of a strange one, but in the Bible, Joab (son of Zeruiah) is someone who I look up to. He’s not exactly everyone’s idea of a hero of the faith in the mould of David or Joshua, but he’s someone who shouldn’t be overlooked. He was the general of David’s army and served David for all of his reign. Along the way, Joab screwed up pretty badly, for example, when he killed Abner, Saul’s general, out of vengeance. But don’t we all screw up badly every now and then? What’s important is that we don’t let our screw ups get in the way of doing our duty and Joab is a good example of this. He never stopped serving David, even when he made mistakes, and he managed to advise his king well from time to time. His story is a reminder to us all that we shouldn’t let our mistakes get in the way of doing what we were made for.