Jonah Lehrer wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the Heroic Imagination Project, a nonprofit designed to train adolescents to be the next generation of American heroes. The project is based on psychological experiments that have pretty important implications for Christians. Lehrer reports:
“Stanley Milgram[‘s] famous experiment in the early 1960s showed that ordinary people would blindly obey authority and give what they thought were strong electrical shocks to strangers…
‘Just look at the Milgram experiment,’ Mr. Zimbardo says. ‘Everybody uses that as an example of how bad people are. But the actual data aren’t so depressing. If subjects watched someone else refuse to issue shocks, then they almost always refused, too. The hero created another hero.’
Often, Christians are reluctant to make the first move. They think their church should focus more on serving the poor. They think their small group needs to be more open. But the allure of waiting for someone else to push for change is to strong. It’s too easy to wait for the hero to come in and fix things. Yet if everyone holds out for a hero, none will ever come. Instead, one must choose to be heroic to inspire heroic changes in others.
The problems in others that seem the biggest and the most insurmountable are often the problems that we struggle with the most ourselves. Do you think the people in your church aren’t being “authentic”? Have you been “authentic” with them about their inauthenticity? Probably not. But if there’s something that really needs to change, then there’s only one way to make sure it happens: do it yourself. So be the first person to open up about your struggles in a small group! Be the person to start a program to serve the poor! Be the person to challenge the others in your life!
In short, be a hero.