Everyone has a list of heroes for their life. I'm talking about the ones who you have looked up to and who had a profound impact on your life. These people are the ones that you most wanted to be like. These are the ones who have made you who you are.
As a little boy growing up in northern Illinois I can easily say that the hero of my childhood was most definitely Michael Jordan. The first basketball game that I can remember watching was of Jordan and the Bulls in the 1991 Finals against Magic Johnson and the Lakers. I remember watching with my dad and my little brother as MJ won his first NBA championship. We all know that this was just the first of six championships for Jordan and the Bulls...and I watched, and can easily account for where I was when each title was won.
Michael Jordan has become the symbol of winning. Though his arrogance and ego have recently been considered suspect at best, no one can deny that MJ is considered to be the epitome of success. I wanted to be that way. Even to this day, Jordan posters are stuck to the wall in my office in homage to the one that they call the GOAT (Greatest Of All-Time). I believe that much of my competitive nature and my desire to be "number one" at EVERYTHING has come from my admiration for Michael Jordan. Even though he was my all-time favorite player, my basketball game looked more like Tracy Jordan than Michael Jordan. Even though his character does not promote Christian behavior or virtue, Michael Jordan has been a hero of mine ever since I was a child.
As I grew into my teens years, music began to take on more of a role in my life. I began singing solos in church and teaching myself to play the piano and guitar. Music seemed to come naturally for me. I typically sang the songs that I heard my mom and dad sing, which was mainly southern gospel songs. But around 1994, the world of my music was blown-up when my pastors son gave me a cassette tape of a group called DC Talk. I had never heard anything like it before in my life. These guys mixed rap, rock, and Jesus...OMG! I sat in my room for hours on end, rewinding that tape over and over until it eventually completely wore out. At the core of DC Talk was the guy that did most of the rapping and a little singing. He was considered the founding member of the group and was the main writer and producer of the band's music. He was a LEADER! I loved leaders!!!
Toby McKeehan or tobyMac as he is now known, can easily be considered one of my heroes. He was and still is an innovator and a man that is considered to be one of the cornerstones of modern day Christian music. He co-wrote the song "Jesus Freak" which is widely considered to be on of the most influential and popular songs in the history of Christian music.He made Christian music cool. Not to mention, he dressed cool, talked cool, and made serving God look like a party as apposed to a burden. I got to see tobyMac live in concert last Spring and it was one of the most exciting nights of my life. TobyMac is a hero.
When I reached adulthood and became involved in ministry, I immediately was drawn to the ministry and life of Billy Graham. Here was a man that came from a dairy farm in North Carolina and went on to preach the Gospel of Christ to more people than anyone in history. His stance for basic Christian principles and the transparency of his organization (The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) are characteristics that are rarely seen in modern day Christianity. I have more books on his life than anyone. He truly has been an inspiring figure to many including me. He is a hero.
As much as these men have accomplished and as much of an impact as they have had on me, none of them can compare to the final person that I would define as one of my heroes. This hero of heroes is the only one on this list that I actually see on a frequent basis. In fact I see this person everyday. I have seen this hero accomplish great things but has never been one to brag on them self. With this hero, the work is never done and their drive to keep going with no excuses is an example to everyone, including me. Who is this amazing Super-Hero you ask???.......none other than Emily Louise Rust Summers...my wife!
Let me first say that I'm not trying to score brownie points here. In fact, she is certainly qualified to be given the title of Super-Hero. She is a full-time mother, which is no easy task. She gives and teaches our daughter with grace, patience and love. She is a full-time wife, which is no easy task especially considering who she is married to. Emily makes me a better man. A better father. A better servant. A better Christian. She improves and enhances everything about me. She is my number one fan, supporter, encourager, confidant, and friend. Obviously it's easy for me to think so highly of her because of all that she does for me, but time does not allow for me to continue on. Full-time mom, wife, housekeeper, youth pastor and teacher. Now she has just added another title to her already impressive Super-Hero resume, "Retired Student."
Maybe that is how we know what a hero really is. Because a real hero never has to give away their identity, everyone can already see it. And if my wife isn't a hero, then you can just say that my game looks like Michael Jordan's!