Everyone of us has or has had some heroes in their lives. Over the years, I have had many. A few of my heroes growing up were Tarzan, Superman, Rifleman, & Roy Rogers just to name a few. Well, I’ve outgrown these heroes…sort of. Those heroes can be fun as a child but heroes begin to shape your life at some point.
Heroes such as Ann Moore-there are few reading this blog who have ever heard of Ann Moore but she helped shape my life. Mrs. Moore was a high school English teacher who expected no more of me than I was capable of doing but required no less either. For C+ students, she expected no less than a C+ but at the same time understood that to expect more was not realistic. She knew how to get the best out of every student in her class. To this day, I cannot sit down to write something that I am not transported back to Obion County Central High School in Troy, Tennessee and ask myself, “What would Mrs. Moore think of this?”
In 1985, as a young Sunday School teacher and deacon, I really understood the sacrifice and love of Jesus Christ for the first time. At that point I committed my life and my soul to His care a direction for my life. He has absolutely revolutionized my life and my future. He is the ultimate hero!
Then there’s Gene Moss, my dad. I learned hard work, ethics, going to church, and being on time from him. I remember going to the Old & Third National Bank in Union City, Tennessee and borrowing a few hundred dollars as a 12 year old to by some hogs and setting up an account at the feed mill. I remember on the way home him telling me that whether or not I had signed a piece of paper saying I’d pay back the money, my word should be enough. A handshake and a verbal promise to him were as binding as a written contact.
A hero for over 36 years is Zannie Moss, my wife. She has not just told me about and modeled compassion, mercy, and forgiveness for me, she has lavished all three of them on me when I deserved justice instead.
Robert Raikes is another hero to me. Raikes is credited for his innovation in setting up the first “Sunday school” in 1780 for the unruly children who lived in Glouster, England. Many of you are headed to heaven because of the “out of the box” idea Raikes had to teach the children to read by using the Bible as a text book.
Another of my Sunday school heroes is J. M. Frost who had the ability to look into the future to see the need for a publishing house for Southern Baptist Sunday School curriculum and presented a resolution in the 1890’s which formed the Baptist Sunday School Board.
For his “Formula” for Sunday School, Arthur Flake entered the ranks of hero to me when I read his book “Building a Standard Sunday School.” He taught me long after his death of the great organizing power of Sunday School and the basic principles that has strengthened Southern Baptist Sunday School for almost 100 years. Flake was a layman who joined the Baptist Sunday School Board in 1909 and became the first Director of the Sunday School Department in 1920.
Then there is Harry Piland whose drive and passion for Christian education influenced me like I didn’t know anyone could. His statement, "the word 'retire' is not in my vocabulary," to a group of Sunday School directors in 1994 has let me see that age has nothing to do with retirement. Retirement is a state of mind. Harry fanned a flame for Christian education in me in 1994 that burns hotter than ever today. Harry left LifeWay in 1994 at age 65 to become associate pastor/minister of education at First Baptist Church of Dallas where he served until 1997 before brain cancer forced him to return to Nashville for treatment before he died in 2001.
His predecessor at LifeWay as director of the Sunday School department, Bill Taylor is a hero to me because as I offered excuses as to why I could not become a minister of education, he showed me why and how I could.
One more Sunday School hero to me is Allan Taylor, the minister of education of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA. Allan leads the education ministry for Pastor Johnny Hunt. I have never met anyone who and has more passion for what he does and believes in and loves Sunday School any more than Allan Taylor…unless it’s me!
Then there’s Dr. Frances Grace Moss Wood, my daughter. As she was in undergraduate school at the University of Tennessee at Martin her fiancé (now husband), E. J., was about an hour away at Lambuth University in Jackson Tennessee. On Friday and Saturday nights instead of chucking the studies for time together, Grace chose to close the library down. Her commitment to her studies and focus on the task at hand inspire me to this day.
One more set of heroes before I share with you some of my very favorite heroes. That is the local pastor-he works long hours doing a mentally, spiritually, and often physically grueling task. There is an incredibly heavy load to carry that he can share with no one. He leads under a microscope and has the opportunity at every turn to upset somebody.
Then there is a hero that goes so often unrecognized exercising constant faithfulness with little reward. He puts in countless hours of ministry, study and preparation every week of the year, most often after a full week of work. That’s the Sunday School teacher. Your level of scholarship inspires me. Your desire to minister to your flock causes me to re-examine my own heart regularly.
I have a lot of heroes and there are a lot more people than me who are looking at you as heroes. Live your life not as a hero but as a servant of Christ. Pour yourself into the task and invest in the lives of others. Wouldn’t it be great to have Jesus say someday, “You are one of my heroes!”?