How Heroes Become Villains


Have you ever seen yourself as a villain?

Most of us don’t see ourselves as the villain of our stories…

We don’t wear a greasy mustache.

We don’t have an evil lair. 

We don’t have elaborate plan to rule the world, “mua ha ha ha haaaaaaaa.”  

We often see ourselves as the hero of our story, the villains are out there, hopefully far away.  But if we were honest with ourselves there have been moments when we have been the villain, even as pastors. 

If you were to take a look at a picture of me as a kid, there was no indication that I could be a villain, there was no 666 stamped on my forehead.  Yet In grade school there was a girl who often smelled like urine.  She had accidents in her pants all the time.  As kids, we laughed and teased her.  Kids can be cruel.  It wasn’t until later in life that I discovered she was being abused at home.  Her lack of bladder control was because of trauma. 

None of us would have considered ourselves villains but to that poor girl who desperately needed a safe place, we had made things even worse for her.

We become the villain when we spend money without thinking and live like crushing debt is normal.

We become the villain when our addiction is ruining our family, finances and faith.  

We become the villain when we allow our schedules to become so crowded that we don’t have time for the people and things that matter most.  

We become the villain when we bully someone else behind their back or to their face.  

We become the villain when we constantly disrupt the family’s peace. 

1 Corinthians 10:12

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

The Message Bible puts it like this,

Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.

It’s so easy to mock a politician, pastor or celebrity who fails publicly.  It’s easy to say how could they be so selfish and stupid?  But given the right circumstances, how many of us would be vulnerable to the same temptation?  

I never used to understand the term “short fuse.”  Its an expression for someone who gets angry easy.  My fuse used to be as long as the fuse in the opening sequence of the Mission Impossible movies.  But then I had kids.  There’s a reason why God created Adam and Eve as adults.  God skipped the teenage and toddler phase because He knew better.  

My four-year-old was sleeping next to me when snoozing became fight club.  He slapped me in my face as hard as he could.  I’m surprised there’s not a little palm print across my eye and cheek.  I jolted awake, ready to punch my surprise attacker.  In my disillusioned state, partly because it was 3am and partly because of the concussion, I knew it had to be a ninja or hired assassin.  When slapped awake I don’t ooze Jesus. 

In moments like that my shadow side comes to the surface and I’m surprised by how much darkness is still in my heart.

It’s moments like these that I’m reminded that I’ve never had a day where I didn’t need grace.  I’ve never graduated beyond my need for a savior.  It’s so easy for me to slip back into the role of the villain.  It’s because of this tendency that I have to routinely lean into this worlds only true superhero for wisdom, courage and strength, Jesus.  He’s not only the world’s greatest hope for stopping the villains out there.  He’s also the greatest hope for stopping the villain within our own hearts.   

Dan Stanford, the author of Losing the Cape

Join Our Newsletter