Refuse to be a Hero

My daughter and son-in-law and myself just drove from Calgary, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia. It is one of the most stunning drives in Canada (nay, the world). Winding through the Rocky Mountains, along rivers and beside green-blue lakes the grandeur takes ones breath away every turn of the road.

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We began our drive at 4pm planning to drive through the night. We did this because my two grandsons ages three and two wouldn’t make such a journey unless they slept most of the way. Google maps told us the trip would take 9.3 hours, but that is a bit of a stretch. We were planning on twelve hours for the trip.

Our plan was to take turns driving and sleeping. It is a good plan of course, except that all of us were a little too pumped to really sleep. We dozed, sorta, little bits here and there as the trip and the night progressed but never enough sleep to erase the growing weariness.

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Personally, I have driven this route many times before. Years back I did it a number of times with five children and a dog, straight through. In recent years I’ve been taking the bus through those mountains in the winter to visit Alexis and Manuel, a trip of 14 hours.

Needless to say the journey is familiar. The time it takes doesn’t feel as long as it is. The scenery is like an old friend still there to greet and welcome as one passes by.

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As the hours and the miles passed we kept switching drivers. And each time we passed the steering wheel to another we said, “Now, whenever you need to take a break you let me know. Even if I am sleeping you wake me up, even if it is only an hour from now.” To which the one taking the wheel would say, “Yes, I’ll do that.”

It is this kind of agreement that creates trust in each other. Driving these kinds of distances, on mountain roads, and then through the night, is always a daunting kind of task that could go very wrong in a very short moment of time. We must all commit to turning over the driving to another if we need a break.

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Each one of us must refuse to be the hero. No HERO’s Allowed.

In the middle of the night as I was driving I was thinking about this – No hero’s allowed – and as I look back over my life and in everything that has gone wrong and bad and failed, there was someone who was trying to play the hero. Often me.

I think about life now and the journey ahead and I am reminded – No hero’s allowed. When I think about leadership and teams and communities and processes and projects going forward I am know that if any one of us plays the role of hero that the whole thing can implode.

As people we must be authentic and honest and vulnerable. We must put down our pride and our hero vest and do what we can, surely, but not more than we can. It is up to each of us to know what we can do and what we cannot do and to say this out-loud in a timely fashion.

For teams and communities of people toward any good end each person must rely on each other. They must ask each other for help. They must receive from each other and clearly say, ‘Okay, can you take the wheel for a time.”

We need the kind of trust in each other that others will wake us up and ask us to take a shift. And we must commit to this same thing, that we will put down our driving position when we know that to go ‘just a little more’ could result in death.

Driving the last stretch of our journey I was well aware that the end of long trips are the most dangerous. That accidents happen in that last push towards a destination when we try to convince ourselves that we can just go a little bit more when really, we can’t.

Of course, this journey turned out well. It was an adventure and a great experience in so many ways, marked, for me, by the commitment amongst us to rely on each other and the refusal by any of us to be a hero.

Published by

Cyndy Lavoie

“Then she was on the road. She preached with joyful urgency that life could be radically different; right and left she sent the demons packing; she brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.” Mark 6:12-13 The Message

7 thoughts on “Refuse to be a Hero”

      1. I wish I were a faster learner sometimes, but hey, slow works wonders too! The idea of inter-dependence is so important, especially in positions of leadership where a certain amount of “silo” ministry can happen. I continue to pray for the strength to be weak! 🙂

  1. Cyndy: in my life, on completely separate occasions, I’ve lost two of my dearest friends in vehicle accidents. They do indeed happen in moments, but change lives for years afterwards. We can not take too much care and the warning to avoid being a hero in the context of driving is apt and wise advice.

    Yet this imagery also works profoundly as a metaphor for our journeys through life, where again a moments lack of focus, honesty, authenticity and humility can open us up to spiritual tragedy.

    I do think western Christian tradition(s) do have a tendency to absorb and dwell uncritically upon hagiographical accounts of “saints” from former ages. And there is a similar unwillingness to respond with critical honesty when “platform ministries” overextend their reach.

    So much of our wider western culture draws on the machismo of (usually male) “heroes” that it is often hard for people to see beyond this form of “salvation.” In fact the gospel itself directly undermines it, yet we re-package it, rather than give up our cultural idols. This is, also, incidentally another reason why good (non-heroic) woman role models are so valuable, as we seek to make sense of the gospel in this post-modern age.

    Great observations, Cyndy.

    1. Indeed John. I’ve been coming across books and articles about the gift of doing life slow. Myself, I am not a natural slow person. I come from a long line of on-fire women who push through and push through – a bit of a gift but a bit (quite a bit) of liability too. Coming to the long stretch of CCIM’s years to come I’m committed to building who we are on principles of a marathon and not a sprint, and this ‘no hero’ thing is part of this from what I can tell. And you are right, we have built our hero saints into the goal – hearing only one side of the story I would imagine.

      1. I’m learning something similar. I thought that, once I’d completed my doctorate, I’d soon be all revved up and ready to roar down the road (that’s putting it a bit string, but you get the idea). Two years later and I’m still coming to terms with a new rhythm of life into which I believe the Spirit is leading me.

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