The crack of gunfire rebounded just inside the school building’s walls. Instinctively, the guard recognized what was happening. He cowered, waiting outside the building, until the relentless sounds ceased.
Several things suggest the guard didn’t fulfill his expected role. His primary duty was to keep the students secure from danger. He wore the uniform. For years, he had accepted a paycheck for the job, knowing of the possibility of just such an event. I don’t even have to mention his name or the school where he worked. You already know who I’m talking about. And what you think of him isn’t positive.
You’ve probably been in a group of people talking about someone like this. One guy proclaims his bravery and says, “If I were in this situation, I would rush in there and disarm that shooter before he knew what hit him…” You know the one. People shy away from admitting that they feel uncertain what they would do if they were in that school guard’s position. Then this guy who always talks before he thinks proclaims his bravery. Everyone knows he is almost always the first one to break and run in the face of danger.
“Stolen Valor” is a term applied to the phenomenon of people falsely claiming military awards or badges they did not earn, service they did not perform, Prisoner of War experiences that never happened, and other tales of military derring-do that exist only in their minds. The person who never served in the military but wears a uniform to public events, complete with medals, is stealing valor from those who actually served. He accepts the attention and tells stories he may have heard on television.1 If caught, he always has an explanation. “Oh, I just wanted to show my own appreciation for people who served because I have so much respect for them.”
Becoming proficient in playing certain war-like video games has nothing to do with valor. It’s a game, and there are no dangers involved, except wasting money and time instead of doing something productive. There is no bravery or sacrifice in such a game. While they are sometimes used by the military to train troops to fight, outside that realm, they are counterproductive to useful life.
Doing something that seems brave to receive acclaim for it is not valor. There is such a thing as counterfeit valor. Counterfeit valor will always have an angle of personal gain of some kind. And nobody becomes valiant at the moment valor is needed. If there is valor, it has developed over much of the life of the person.
Today we live in the shadow of superheroes. A new one is created for the theater regularly. The ones we knew years ago undergo metamorphosis to be able to do battle with the great powers of darkness. (As if the real world doesn’t have enough of its own darkness to deal with!) People in the theater seats are in two categories. They may glory in the unrealistic story of such a being winning over impossible odds. Or, they may become inspired to become a real hero, just because they see parallels with the society we all live in.
Valor is not only found in the military and when people are at war. It must also be said that not all people of valor are Christian. I am convinced that God is working in all people to build them and to draw us all to a closer relationship with Him. Christians are not perfect people. God is working within each one to form His Character in us. We all react differently. We are individuals. We each respond to stimuli differently than others do. He is leading all people through their experiences. It is up to us as individuals to respond to His leading.
In the Bible, Naaman was commander of the Syrian military. God had worked through him to defeat Israel and teach them a lesson. One of the captives his forces took was a young Israelite girl who now worked in his home. Still, he was called a mighty man of valor.2 Through the narrative, we see how God directed events to soften his heart.
There is a lot to learn in Namaan’s story that we will explore later. For now, be careful of two things. The first is that we don’t consider ourselves higher and better than who we really are. Second, remember that God is working to develop in you the highest character to live the very best life and to accomplish the most amazing things in our lives. You can be a powerful blessing to those around you. Where does it all begin? That’s the next installation of Valor life.
For now, Live Valor.
Questions to ask yourself. If you feel like it, you can even share some of your responses in the comments.
- Looking back, when do I see God forming a step toward valor in me?
- How would I like to see valor affect my life?
2 2 Kings 5:1, 2 NKJV
©2020 Gary Wagner