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When Your Heroes Fall

When our heroes fail us, we can still choose to honor their lives.


When I was in the seventh grade, my family moved from a large town to a small village with only 2,000 people. In that town just about everyone I knew had grown up together and attended the same school since kindergarten. Since our town didn't have its own high school, after the kids attended school in our district from kindergarten through the eighth grade, they transferred to a neighboring school district and our town would pay the tuition.

As a seventh grader, at the age of 13, I was a newcomer at this small-town school. It's difficult to be the new kid at school, but I had some excellent teachers who were caring and helpful. One of them was Mr. G., my language arts teacher. He not only encouraged me to write and read, he also believed in me. He made a difference for good in my life.

Although I attended that school for less than two years, it was a sad day when I graduated from eighth grade and left it all behind. For the next two years I attended a high school in a neighboring town, until four towns, including my small town, established a new regional high school. Amazingly, the principal of that school hired Mr. G. and he became my English teacher. Once again, we were together: I was the class president, and he became my friend and faculty advisor.

After I had graduated from high school and came home for Christmas, I went with one of my West Essex High School friends to visit Mr. G. We wanted to reconnect with him and be encouraged by him. Years later, Charlene and I sent him a wedding invitation, and he gave us an expensive, silver gift that we still have and value.

Mr. G. was my mentor, my teacher, and my friend. But this story doesn't end well. He became the faculty advisor of other classes, helping them with ...

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Leith Anderson is pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).

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Audio Sample:

Sermon Outline:


I. Discovering a king-hero-mentor

II. The hero meets tragedy

III. The tragedy gets even worse

IV. Remembering the people of Jabesh

V. Honoring our Fallen Heroes