Faster than a prayer on wings, more powerful than
dynamite, able to leap over any problem. Introduce Jesus as the
real hero kids can look up to. But first, understand what qualities
kids look for in a hero…
Childhood heroes — we all had them — are a timeless element of
childhood that allows kids to look up to someone greater than
themselves. Kids aspire to be like their heroes. Today’s kids have
a range of heroes, some with questionable reputations, such as
Britney Spears or Harry Potter. Others are undoubtedly the best in
their field — Tiger Woods or Venus and Serena Williams. And since
the attacks of September 11, community figures such as firefighters
and police officers have once again gained hero status.
So where does Jesus Christ fit in? “I wanna be like Jesus” –
isn’t that what we want our kids to strive for?
Kids need to know that Jesus isn’t someone who lived more than
2,000 years ago; he also lives today. Jesus is the ultimate hero.
Let’s take a look at the magnetic characteristics that draw kids to
heroes and how those same characteristics can be found in Jesus
The Professional Hero
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The professional athlete and the successful business tycoon
portray the characteristics of the hero who’s an expert in a field.
Kids are drawn to this hero not only for the expertise but also for
the power and wealth that often accompanies this hero.
Today’s kids desire to be successful, and they don’t question
that this quality is achievable for them as they grow older. Kids
dream of one day being a professional athlete, the next Bill Gates,
or a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Having a hero who’s a
professional gives kids hope for the future and a goal to achieve.
The professional hero is where legends are born.
Jesus the Professional — Born a carpenter’s son, Jesus learned
his father’s trade and, more than likely, he was good at it. His
expertise in the art of carpentry isn’t what makes him memorable;
it’s his unique knowledge of intimate details related to God.
And that’s because Jesus is God. Jesus demonstrated that he was
God by performing miracles, resisting great temptations, and
teaching life-changing lessons despite his age or lack of
education. His business practices are legendary, using ordinary
people to do extraordinary things. Because of who he is, he has the
The Problem-Solving Hero
Abraham Lincoln, James Bond, and Mary Poppins all have an answer
when there doesn’t seem to be one. Whether it’s solving a political
issue that could change the future or providing a remedy to make
the medicine go down, kids like a person who seems to have all the
Kids are curious by nature and enjoy the challenge of solving a
problem. Characters such as James Bond display quick thinking in a
tight situation. Abraham Lincoln was able to think past the
country’s problems to ensure a solution for future generations.
Heroes who are problem-solvers inspire kids to create a better
future. Problem-solvers challenge kids to be the person who finds a
cure for cancer or discovers a new way to teach kids with
Jesus the Problem-Solver — When the wedding party ran out of
beverages, Jesus found a way to provide more. When faced with a
hungry crowd and few available resources, Jesus came through with
food to satisfy people’s hunger. And when he had a boat-full of
friends who were fearful that they’d die in a storm, Jesus assured
them they’d be safe.
Jesus faced many problems, and he never shied away in fear or
doubt. His problem-solving skills still apply today, and his
answers can beat the toughest of situations. Jesus always knows the
The Fearless Hero
These heroes are often portrayed as animated characters such as
Superman or the Powerpuff Girls. The fearless are also
characterized in live-action movies and TV shows. These heroes show
strength and wisdom in dealing with frightening situations. Kids
are drawn to fearless individuals because kids want to be protected
– whether by a superhero or their parents.
Kids live in a frightening world and often feel powerless. Kids
today aren’t sure who they can trust, so they often trust no one.
With constant media attention given to the bad things of this
world, kids value a person who isn’t afraid. Kids desire to be
fearless, and a fearless hero is one they can emulate in a
Jesus the Fearless — When faced by Satan himself, Jesus was
able to stand up to evil and temptation. A severe storm? Jesus
remained calm and collected. Even when he faced death, Jesus was
able to triumph. Jesus provides triumph over evil and protection in
the face of fear. In him, kids have nothing to fear.
The Superstar Hero
Kids are easily drawn to superstars because of constant media
exposure. Yet many of these people have questionable lifestyles
that make them controversial. Some even clearly vocalize that they
aren’t role models for kids. But they’re still heroes in kids’
eyes, and the superstar is an easy role model for kids’ clothing,
language, and interests.
Who doesn’t like attention or recognition? Kids see the
superstar hero as a ticket to fame and fortune. Wishes such as “If
I could just sing like Britney Spears” or “If I could only be as
funny as Mike Myers” cause kids to model their hero’s behavior or
dress like their superstar hero. These are heroes everyone seems to
like, and kids want to be part of the “in” group. Kids want to know
intimate details about superstars so other kids will think they’re
“in the know.” These are the heroes who easily change with the wind
or the top 10 on billboard charts.
Jesus the Superstar — Back in his day, Jesus may not have
always been considered a superstar. His reputation and ministry,
though, have stood the test of time. He’s still talked about around
the world and more widely recognized than any other person over the
centuries. Unlike many of today’s superstars, Jesus was humble in
his public life. He asked people to follow him, even though he
couldn’t offer a life of riches and fame. Yet people still
followed. Today Jesus continues to ask people to follow him. Jesus
is worthy of our worship and our time, and the rewards of following
him far outweigh those of being a band groupie.
The Good Hero
On September 11, our view of good and evil was clarified.
Suddenly the heroes of yesteryear — firefighters and police
officers — were once again hailed as public heroes. These are the
heroes who risk their lives to save others and who work hard to
succeed. They’re individuals who are humble in their service. We
may not recognize their heroism if we passed them on the street,
but when they’re on the job we know they’re heroes.
To a child whose hero is a firefighter, the hero is more than
likely nameless. But ask that same child why the firefighter is a
hero and the child’s description will make it clear why the hero is
one of the good guys. These heroes help kids know that good wins
over evil. Kids have an inner sense of what’s right, and although
they aren’t always good, they want to be on the good side. Kids
want to help others, save the planet, and rescue the hurt and
Jesus the Good — Few would disagree that Jesus is one of the
good guys. He may not wear a uniform, but even those who don’t know
him recognize the goodness portrayed in his outstretched hands.
Jesus heals the sick, feeds the hungry, and helps the lost find
their way home. He loves the unlovable, and he died and rose again
to save the world. Jesus seemed like an average guy on the street,
but in his ministry he did miraculously good things.
The Immortal Hero
These heroes never die; their reputation lives beyond their
mortal bodies. The immortal hero is the action hero who — despite
death-defying stunts and predicaments — still can save the day.
These are heroes whose names are never forgotten and whose impact
on the world is lasting.
Kids think they’re invincible; it’s hard for them to imagine
that one day they’ll die. Heroes who are immortal give kids hope
that life goes on despite death. These heroes also feed kids’
fantasies that it’s possible to do anything without consequences of
being hurt or killed. The immortal hero allows kids to grasp that
there’s a being greater than themselves — all-knowing and
all-powerful — who stands the test of time.
Jesus the Immortal — Although Jesus died on a cross, he rose
again and walked the earth three days after his death. More than
any other person, Jesus has had a lasting impact on the world over
the centuries. The impact he left when he departed to heaven lives
on today; the story of his life has been passed down from
generation to generation. Jesus truly is immortal, and his return
is awaited by those who believe in him.
Carmen Kamrath’s childhood heroes were Laura Ingalls Wilder
and Joe Montana. She’s the associate editor for Children’s Ministry
Magazine. Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and
prices are subject to change.