Looking back over your life, who were your heroes—the people you looked up to and wanted to be like? We’ve grown up wanting to be the hero of whatever story we were living at the time. Really, who doesn’t want to be thought of as the hero and celebrated for his or her courageous acts, special achievements, and noble character?
Down deep, each of us longs to live lives bigger than ourselves. When we watch movies, we rarely see ourselves in the shoes of the villain or of the supporting cast. Instead, we’re drawn to the life of the superhero, putting ourselves at the center of the main plot.
We all want to be the story’s hero. But over the years, I’ve learned that there is an even better role to aspire to than “hero”—a role that shifts my focus from addition to multiplication, and from “me” to “others.” The shift is counter-cultural. Ultimately, it’s a shift that makes us much more like Jesus!
Behind every hero is at least one hero maker.
From Hero to Hero Maker
I think the best way to define a “hero maker” is a leader who faithfully makes heroes who make heroes who make heroes. True hero makers live in the shadows, often nameless but faithfully embracing the role of supporting character. They don’t seek to be the central figure in the main plot. Instead, their main plot is to faithfully make heroes who make heroes who make heroes.
Think of Barnabas, the hero maker to Paul and others. The scales had barely fallen from Paul’s eyes before Barnabas had taken him to the apostles and vouched for him. Later, he took Paul to the Antioch church, ultimately setting him up for planting churches that would advance the cross and change the world. Barnabas shifted from hero to becoming the mentor who creates heroes that ultimately become mentors (for example, Paul to Timothy).
Hero makers are disciple makers—disciples who make disciples who make disciples and have a pattern of continually investing in others to help them be all Jesus intends for them.
The Ultimate Hero Maker
In no other place do we see the example of hero maker modeled so strongly as in the Gospels. Jesus’ life and ministry are the epitome of what it looks like to shine the spotlight on others. His death on the cross was heroic. He stretched out His arms and said, “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). He invested in us, through His death, so that the best of what God intended for us could be redeemed and made whole.
Jesus’ life and ministry are the epitome of what it looks like to shine the spotlight on others.
But Jesus didn’t stop there. He made heroes out of his closest followers. Jesus was pretty explicit about His desire to equip His followers to do the heroic: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12, emphasis added). Jesus told the disciples that He was setting them up so that they could reach more people, go to more places, write a book we call the Bible, and make more disciples than He ever would during His three years of earthly ministry. He modeled hero making in how He lived, calling us to be hero-making, multiplying leaders.
Multiplying leaders aggressively seek to make heroes of others. When you shift from being simply the hero of your church to helping others become the heroes, you provide the future mentors your church will need on the journey toward Level 5 multiplication.
If you focus on being a hero, you may do some great things on this side of eternity. But as a hero maker, you’ll see great things happen through the people you invest in and the people they invest in and so on. It’s this kind of leadership that will move the needle on church multiplication.
The personal scorecards of hero makers are measured not by what they do, but rather by how they release the potential in others. How can you move from being addition heroes of your story to a multiplication hero maker of God’s story?
Throughout the next few months, we will be diving in to the “5 Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders.” We hope you will come along on the journey that takes us from being a hero to making others the hero in God’s unfolding story.
We also have 5 regional events coming to a city near you (Washington DC, Southern California, Bay Area, Houston, Chicago). Exponential Regionals are designed to make the main stage programming at our national event in Orlando more accessible to church leaders in local geographic areas. These gatherings are for leaders who are unable to attend our national event OR need a more affordable option to bring their entire team. Click here to register!
Todd Wilson is co-founder and director of Exponential.