Wednesday, January 07, 2015


I have an embarrassing confession to make. 

Were I to have made a list of who my heroes were many years ago, that list, while having many men's names and some you would know, would NOT have had a single woman's name on it. The problem was not that I had no female heroes, my sister Betty would come to mind immediately, but because back in those days the only way I thought of most women was as a "wife" even if she was "just" the "wife" of one of my heroes. [There is no downplaying of the significance of being a wife here at all. It IS sad that a "role" said more to me than did being a "person." Thus, the embarrassment part of the confession.] 

In our early pastorates the folks would sometimes forget Mary's name because they so seldom heard or used it as she was basically referred to as "our pastor's wife." That role-playing kind of thinking and environment also made me a perfect candidate for a hierarchical system of authority [That's a REAL problem] that left men in charge of everything. I read the scriptures with this filter in place for several years which was unfortunate for my own family and the churches I pastored.

I'm glad I can now say that hierarchical filter has been removed, both scripturally, since it was NEVER in the text correctly understood anyway, and personally. Were I to create a list of heroes now,  Mary, my wife, would HEAD the list. She is quick of mind, superior in intelligence, has a heart in the right place and knows as much [or more] about life, theology, the Lord, controversial issues politically, you name it, as ANYONE I know. A list of my heroes today would also contain, for differing reasons, the names of each of our daughters, our daughters-in-law, granddaughters,  and many others such as my sister, Betty,  Marcia, my pastor's wife, my niece, Sherry__well__ you see where I'm going with this. It would be a LONG list and it would NOT be gender specific. 

Truth be known,  I'm thinking every person on my imaginary list of heroes would probably object to being there. I'm thinking they should object. Heroes may be more for kids than anyone else anyway. We adults have lived long enough to see that all our supposed heroes fail in some way and they've seen us fail as well. Maybe there really is only one true Hero and if we see Him for Who He REALLY is and how He REALLY is to us, it will enable us to love, accept, forgive, enjoy and even like people right where they are since that's the way we will find He relates to us.

Perhaps our lists as adults should be called our "Most admired." If this is true consider the list of women I've mentioned above to be on my list. [Along with several un-named men for sake of brevity.]

Maybe with Him as our "hero" we need no other heroes because He's "hero enough."  Right!

Paul B


Garen Martens said...

Your Mary and many other women would be on my "Most admired" list as well. I might even have room for a fellow named Paul Burleson on that list.
Well said my friend!

Chad Pritchard said...

It all depends on your definition of "Hero". I totally agree with your view of Christ being our ultimate example of Hero. However, there is enough criteria in my definition of the word that my earthly father does a "bang-up job" in that role. Men (fathers) heroes, rare these days.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks! Gracious words and I appreciate them.


You may be correct in what you say. Not all of of us were as fortunate as were you in this area and it is good to hear your testimony about it.

The generally given definition for hero or heroine is, "The word hero (masculine or gender-neutral) or heroine (feminine) refers to someone who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and/or the will for self-sacrifice for some great good of humanity."

There are a few who perhaps meet this criteria, even some dads, but I'm thinking the gist of the post might stand, Jesus certainly qualifies, though I admit to a bit of an over-statement in the post when taken in it's entirety perhaps.

Good comment. Thanks.

Aussie John said...


What an interesting subject to write about, but I have to confess that unlike Chad I had no real earthly heroes,still don't, but I do like that Paul B. fellow:)

I had one comic book hero whom an old American like yourself would remember, Buck Rogers.

As you say,"Maybe there really is only one true Hero and if we see Him for Who He REALLY is and how He REALLY is to us, it will enable us to love, accept, forgive, enjoy and even like people right where they are since that's the way we will find He relates to us".

I have to confess that, even after a lifetime of ministry I only began to "see Him for Who He REALLY is and how He REALLY is to us" during the last 25 years or so when I began to see Him as the New Covenant person declared in Isaiah 42:6,...I will give you as a covenant for the people.."

If that's what a hero is then the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is mine.

"Hero.." Doesn't quite make the grade. Do you think?

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

You can tell that I sometimes just write what strikes my fancy in the moment.

I'm STILL amazed at how similar our journeys have been before and after the past twenty-five years. I think our "course correction" theologically and even our experiences are scarily similar.

What's the phrase? "Two peas in a pod."

Steve Miller said...


The term hero can certainly fit into one of those worn out cliches but in the manner in which yourself and those who have responded before me it causes one to truly rethink the term, its true impact, and to whom may fit the definition. Thank you once again for causing us to dwell on the subject.

Certainly foundational in the term is one whose lifestyle backs up the term. In most cases it is over a lifespan and not just contained to a specific event though it certainly could be. But my heros are those that over time have lived and shared lives which dealt with the issues that were truly relevant, relational, and redemptive. My mother and father fit this, some coaches I have had, yourself and Mary, and of course My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I have not had the opportunity to meet in person all my heros, such as Louis Zampirini, CS Lewis, Billy Graham but I have met Jesus and that is one hero we can be assured of us knows us and calls us friend.

Thanks again for reminding me that true heros stay close to the truth even it causes them to change their thinking and maybe even their lifestyle.


Paul Burleson said...


OUTSTANDING comment. Thanks AGAIN.

Cheryl Schatz said...

Your openness in your journey to accept women as equals is so commendable. I have appreciated your wisdom for a long time and admire your openness. I pray that God will bring many more men to see women the way you do.

Victorious said...

I think as far back as I can remember, my mother was my hero and most admired person in my life. She was strong and unflappable. She brought up 6 daughters and 3 sons and never showed any partiality. My brothers did the same household chores my sisters and I did so I grew without a sense that women needed to be "submissive" or "feminine" to fulfill our "role." My self confidence in my female-ness caused a considerable amount of criticism from many upon being saved, but because of mom's excellent example, I was able to stand firmly in my belief. I refused to see myself any differently than I knew Jesus did.

Hallelujah what a Savior!

Thanks for sharing your journey and those you admire, Paul!

Paul Burleson said...


I appreciate your comment. I also have to say that your understanding AND presentation of the biblical materials on the equality of male/female and giftedness in Christ is some of the finest I've ever read. I've trumpeted your insights and work to everyone willing to listen. Many, many have. Thanks.


Your testimony has in the past and does today inspire me. You're open about your struggles but always with the window of hope that is in the grace of God. I would HAVE to add both you AND Cheryl to my most admired list were I to draw one up,

Thanks for commenting.