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What does it mean to be a tough guy, a hero? Where can we find the best role models? Who is the ultimate HERO?

How does the media define tough guys? Let’s compare views.

Look at Hollywood and who they feature. Car thieves, mobsters, ganstas in the hood. These misfits are not tough, unless by tough you mean the ability to ignore human suffering or the values of civilized society. They are no more than thugs who follow carnal instincts to obtain what is not theirs by whatever means they choose. Murder, mayhem, greed, corruption, deception, betrayal, rape, theft, and such are their trademarks.

In their minds, they are noble, admired by their minions who follow along. But their actions are not the stuff or real tough guys, of real heroes worthy of admiration. Those around them live in fear. Neighborhoods despise them but dare not take a stand because these wanton bullies exact vicious revenge. Whether the Mafia, or street thugs, they are far from heroic. They are weak, driven by their own base drives.

Look at athletes. Millions of dollars are spent in sports for games, merchandise, and opportunities to emulate one’s favorite athlete.  Yet, too often we learn that those very “heroes” on the field are chemically enhanced. They are no different than the women pictured nude in magazines whose bodies are artistically manipulated and not real, yet drive youth to achieve what is portrayed. To succeed, these athletes juice up to achieve the unattainable by normal competitors.

Worse yet, look at their personal lives. Strip clubs “raining” cash on dancers, drugs and booze till they do the inevitable – act stupid in public. Worse, like Eric Hernandez, get arrested for murder, or others for shootings, stabbings, hit and run, spousal or partner abuse, rape – all for what?  And children admire these thugs, no different from the punks on the street.

Now lets look at real heroes – real tough guys.



DIED 9-11

On 9-11, when the call went out, our noble hero firefighters and law enforcement heard the call and ran to clear danger while thousands ran away. These brave heroes went into the towers to rescue those they did not know.

It happened in Oklahoma City, in Boston, in Aurora CO, in Newtown CT, outside Waco, and in points across this great nation.

They were on the chase in California for a rouge officer, and they have been fighting wildfires in the west, where 19 died in a day.  They were in Waco.

Every day, men and women strap on their gun and pick up that badge representing their oath to serve and protect people they do not know, who, in fact, look down on them as lesser professions.

They pick up a hose, man the truck, grab an ax and run into burning buildings, or respond to emergency calls for accidents, murder, fire, explosions, all to serve their fellow citizens.

They answer calls of those distraught, dying, victimized, brutalized, from citizens knowing they can dial 911 and get help. And they put up with the stupid calls from idiots angry because their Whopper or Big Mac was not right. And they take that call of an officer or firefighter calling in for help, perhaps with their very last breath.

And, they walk the halls of what the world sees as God forsaken hellholes that house the dregs of society, evil doers, thugs, common criminals, drug dealers, rapists, wife beaters, murderers, and some even worse. Daily they watch over this mass of inhumanity that committed criminal acts upon society. They are spat on, hit with defecation, urine, or other nasty discharge. Some are beaten, some die.

These incredible professionals sacrifice for the rest of society. Day and night. Holidays and birthdays. Anniversaries. Not for fame or fortune, rather, from a desire to make this world a better place. Too often, they are underpaid and rarely appreciated by the very ones they serve. While we are at it, the families of these heroes say goodbye at the start of shift, with no guarantee their loved one will return unharmed. They too are tough, in a good way.

Let’s not forget to mention our military. They too selflessly defend our nation in remote outposts, urban cities in foreign lands, and deserts and jungles around the globe. They deserve highest honor for their sacrifices, as do their families.


You can see traits of heroism and toughness every day – parents who work hard to provide a good home, quality education, and nourishment for their family. Parents who put their kids first rather than their petty differences or grand dreams of adventure.  They spend time talking, playing, and relating to their family. They speak words of kindness and love, wrapped in hugs and kisses. They are tough enough to show affection.

Real heroes and tough guys are more concerned to being honest and faithful than accepted by peers, or living up to  an unattainable ideal perpetrated by Hollywood.  They are men teaching sons that gentleness and tenderness is strength, that forgiveness is the foundation of relationships. They are mothers who teach their daughters that who they are inside is more important than killing themselves to look like a computer altered model that is literally dying for attention. They are dads who show their daughters what a gentleman looks like and show her the love of a father.

Real heroes and tough guys are givers, not takers. They are prayers and not whiners.  They are servants. They ask not what have you done for me, but rather, what can I do for you.

They are not measured by the size of their bank account or the measure of their possessions, house, or toys. They are measured by the lives they touch, the hearts they inspire, and commitment to honoring the values they hold dear. Truth and honor, integrity and sacrifice are their measure.

These are the ideals to which we must aspire. And when we fall short, we have the humility to ask for forgiveness.


There has been only one man who is the ideal of toughness, who is the heroes hero. This is my HERO.

We are told that Jesus came to earth because of God’s overwhelming love, to bring salvation to those who rebelled against His Father. We are told He did not come to condemn, rather, to save. He “ran to the danger when bullets were flying, when fir blaze is out of control. “

Honestly, He did far more. He pled guilty for the sin, the wrongdoing of mankind. He was not put in a comfy prison nor monitored. He was betrayed by one of His own close followers. In essence, a partner.

His punishment? Not merely death. No shots, poison, sword, or any quick means.

After His arrest in the garden, He was taken before leaders who killed Him, not because He broke a law – they did not want to convict. Rather, to appease a special interest group, a religious leaders who gathered a mob – leaders who paid off this crowd to join their protest, who had political reasons to want Jesus dead. He threatened their power, not with force, rather, through His love and sheer power as the Son of God.

After a faulty trial there was no appeal. He was taken to be beaten, whipped with strips of leather with shards of glass and metal at the tips. His flesh was ripped and torn. A crown of thorns was jammed hard on His head, piercing His scalp. The inhumanity of this beating is unspeakable. Yet, He willingly suffered such brutality. He did not beg mercy, He knew His task, He knew He must finish what He began.

After dragging His own cross to Calvary, He was nailed to a wooden cross. He was mocked, His side pierced.

Let’s follow the evidence, look at a medical perspective (click link) of what happened that day.

Gain perspective as a physician looks at the physical damage Jesus experienced.


The point is, we have a choice.

What kind of hero, what kind of tough guy should we aspire to be?

If we follow the world’s definition of hero, of tough guy, life will be a shallow substitute of what could be. Life filled with self aggrandizement,  a futile chase for more – money, respect, importance, power, possessions.  No doubt, this path leads to an unfulfilled life. Many good people, at the end of the day, wonder if life was worth it all. Frustrated by unattained goals, shattered dreams, and adventures lived through their admiration of the worlds heroes leaves one lacking real peace.

OR – –

We can choose another role model.  Look at the sacrificial love; live given for the good of others, a live lived without the trappings of success. No possessions, home, refinements. A life lived with one goal in mind – obeying the will of His father. He came to serve & protect. To save.

In essence, this live is one of sacrifice, of surrender. The payoff, the upside? Well, it might not be that fancy car or big bucks. Perhaps it is not the big house with a pool. This path has a different goal.

On the one hand, someone might just want to live the live of service, o=f sacrifice and bee a good person, a good citizen, and that is a good citizen.  But is not a life of surrender.

Jesus came to save. He said come to me all of you who are weary, and I’ll give you rest.  The best road leads to a relationship, surrendering your life to Jesus, asking Him to be Lord, to direct your steps, to help be a better father, son, spouse, to use your service and sacrifice in whatever way He deems best.

The choice is to emulate a shallow “hero,” a paper “tough guy,” or follow the greatest HERO, the toughest TOUGH GUY of all history. Think about it, Jesus could have dealt with the crowd demanding His death with one word. He could have dropped every one of them. He could have chosen to kill those wanting to beat Him with the wave of His hand. He could have come off that cross and killed each attacker.

He chose to die, to provide the way, the truth, the light.  He sacrificed His life to achieve God’s will, a sacrifice that allows us to live. He is still saying, Come to Me, and I’ll give you rest.


S&P CardAbout the author –  Robert Michaels is the CEO/National Chaplain of Serve & Protect.

He is a veteran of law enforcement, serving both as an MP with the 229th Military Police Battalion for 6 years, and with the Norfolk Police Department for 5 years, both on patrol and as a detective. Rob earned a B.S. in Biblical Education from Columbia International University, a M.A. from Wheaton College in Communications, and is an ordained minister. Serve & Protect is dedicated to the emotional and spiritual well being of Law Enforcement, FireRescue/EMS, Dispatch, and Corrections through a 24/7 Coast2Coast Crisis Line, Chaplain Alliance, and Trauma Therapist Alliance. He hosts the Guns’n’Hoses Bible Fellowship, and edits the Serve & Protect newsfeed  on FACEBOOK. Rob serves as the State Chaplain for Tennessee Fraternal Order of Police, and  is a Chaplain and Sergeant at Arms for FOP Morris Heithcock Lodge 41 in Williamson County TN, where he is an active member. 

He can be reached at, or 615-224-2424. He is available to speak for interviews, at events, churches, mens groups, criminal justice classes, chapels, and groups.

The Serve & Protect crisis line is 615-373-8000 24/7 Coast2Coast. Download informational posters free at: POSTER.

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