Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Derwin L. Gray's new book, Hero: Unleashing God's Power in a Man's Heart, (Summerside Press, 2009).
Men are meant to be heroes. Even when life's disappointments leave you feeling unfulfilled, you still have a heroic spark inside you, waiting to be set aflame. That's because you've been made in the image of the Great Hero - God - and called to live a heroic life.
Here's how you can become a hero:
Grow upward. Learn more about God and ask Him to empower you to reflect some of His wonderful qualities in your own life. Since God is the Creator, use the creativity He has given you to bless other people. Since God is your heavenly Father, forgive your earthly father for his mistakes and reconcile with him if he's still alive. Since God wants to have a face-to-face relationship with you, pursue face-to-face relationships with other people that allow for truly close bonds to develop between you. Since God protects you, guard against the ways that the world, your human selfish nature, and Satan try to attack you by praying and asking others you trust to pray for you. Since God has integrity, ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to live with integrity and ask a few other believers to hold you accountable to live with integrity every day.
Since God is in control, release your own agenda and pursue God's dreams for your life. Since God is faithful, rely on the strength He provides to overcome sin and love others faithfully as He calls you to do. Since God has always existed, ask Him to give you an eternal perspective on the situations you face. Since God is wise, seek His wisdom before making decisions so you can choose well. Since God is love, ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you - as His beloved child - and to make your life a conduit through which He pours out His love into other people's lives. Since God promises to always be with you to help, trust God to empower you to do whatever He calls you to do - even when it doesn't seem possible.
Grow inward. Learn more about the man God wants you to become and grow to be more like that person. Rather than running and hiding from God when you blow it, run toward Him to confess, repent, and receive the grace He generously offers you. Don't define yourself by what the culture values most: power, prestige, and possessions. Instead, embrace your identity as God's beloved child, whether or not you have what the world values. Remember that your faith isn't just about making good moral decisions; it's about inviting the Holy Spirit to live inside of you and transform you.
Realize that, because of Jesus' sacrificial death on the Cross for your sins, God sees you as righteous when you trust in Jesus, and when you see yourself as righteous, you'll be less inclined to sin. Look for real friends - people who love you enough to tell you the truth, even when you don't want to hear it - and be that kind of friend to others. Let go of regrets and shame over your past sins. If you've confessed and repented, God has forgiven you, and you're capable of moving forward into a better future.
Since God isn't angry at you, don't be angry at yourself or at other people. Ask God to help you forgive those who have hurt or offended you. Live as a free man, realizing that you're under grace rather than a set of external religious rules. Since God has loved you extravagantly, pass that lavish love onto other people by extending grace to them.
Abide in Christ, following His guidance daily about what's most important. Ask God to bring people into your life who can disciple you in the faith, and to bring others who you can disciple, as well. Accept your mission from God to share His love with others at all times and in all situations. Worship Him in every part of your life so that every activity becomes a sacred adventure. Make spiritual disciplines like prayer, solitude, silence, Bible reading, fasting, and getting together with other believers regular habits. Ask God to show you how to pray according to His will, and to use your prayer time to transform you so that you'll grow to want for yourself what God wants for you.
Grow outward. Use what you've learned about God and yourself to join God in His work in the world, helping to make it a better place. Recognize that your life's story is an important part of the greater story of God's work in the world. Read the Bible often and live by its principles to play your part in the greatest story of all.
Worship God, connect to others, and serve your community through your local church. Pray for the strength you need to be the best husband, father, or single person you can be, making the most of the time God gives you during your current season of life. Break free of the clutches of commercialism and materialism by pursuing the true treasure - Jesus - over everything else. View your money and possessions as simply tools you can use to advance God's kingdom work. Stick to a budget, get out of debt, and give generously to your local church and those in need. Thank God for the job He has given you, and consistently give your best effort to it, remembering that you're ultimately serving God through your work.
When you suffer, understand that you're suffering isn't in vain; God will use your experiences to make you more like Jesus. When other people suffer, listen to their stories and pray for them. Resist the temptation to view pornography. If you're already addicted to it, get counseling and pray for the strength to break free. Regularly share the Gospel message with people you know who aren't yet Christians. Fight evil every day by praying for the spiritual strength to overcome it.
Don't give up the faith, no matter what challenges you may encounter. Keep running the race of faith your whole life long, knowing that Jesus will be there at the finish line to celebrate with you!
Adapted from Hero: Unleashing God's Power in a Man's Heart, copyright 2009 by Derwin L. Gray. Published by Summerside Press, Bloomington, Mn., www.summersidepress.com.
Former NFL player Derwin L. Gray, also known as The Evangelism Linebacker, is the pastor of preaching and spiritual formation at theGathering, a multi-ethnic, intergenerational church in Charlotte, North Carolina. he also serves as the president of One Heart at a Time Ministries. Along with his wife, Vicki, and their two children, Presley and Jeremiah, Gray makes his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. Visit www.oneheartatatime.org for more information.
Original publication date: November 10, 2009