Mr. Incredible (aka Robert Parr) is one heck of a dude.
If you’ve never seen the movie, Mr. Incredible starts out as a typical superhero, saving the world repeatedly from destruction. Just before he marries Elastigirl (Helen), he saves a man from an attempted suicide who goes on to sue for damages. Soon the “supers,” of which there are at least dozens, are unwanted and forced to go underground in a kind of witness protection program.
Life, after suppressing the “super” inside him seems somewhat normal for Robert. He has three kids, gains a bit of weight, and works a steady job at an insurance agency. And he’s dying on the inside. His predicament is epitomized by a conversation with a little neighbor boy. When Robert asks the kid why he’s at the end of their driveway and what he’s waiting for, the kid replies, “I don’t know, something amazing!”
Robert whispers a soft “Me too, kid,” and then heads inside.
As the story continues, Mr. Incredible is re-activated in a covert operation on a remote island without his wife’s knowledge. Things seem to go better and worse at the same time. Robert is enjoying being a hero again, but it’s all behind his wife’s back so that he doesn’t risk blowing cover again. The whole family is plunged into a bit of an identity crisis. They’re wired to be “super” but are told by their culture that it’s just not acceptable to stand out.
By the climax of the movie, the whole family has managed to patch their damaged relationships up and winds up fighting the forces of evil together under Mr. Incredible’s leadership.
This is what he was meant for.
Men, You Are Meant for More
There’s a reason men love superheroes. There’s a reason we’re inspired by the images of men (actual heroes) charging out of landing craft onto the beaches of Normandy. And there’s a reason we love to watch a guy win a slugfest in a ring. We are seeking to at least vicariously fulfill the original design God had in mind for men – to lead, to fight for right, to win and defend.
The part of men that craves to win a fight has been corrupted by human sinfulness. We’ve wound up with big egos and a lack of integrity, leading us to fight with the wrong people for the wrong things and to avoid the more important battles for the health of our souls, our families, and our communities.
We replace masculinity with machismo, or we retreat into the shadows and watch porn, play games, or drink our lives away.
But man, you were meant for more! God intended you to be both a lover and a fighter!
Out of Mr. Incredible’s life, I want to share ten lessons that I think are generally true for men.
- It’s not about you. Mr. Incredible originally wanted credit, fame, and glory, and had to lose it all to understand this big lesson. It’s never about you.
- The real heroes are the guys who live real lives. It’s easy to be Mr. Incredible when you have super powers. It’s much harder to be Dad and husband, Robert Parr, who works each day and raises kids to adulthood.
- Hiding your struggles will always get you into trouble. Robert hid his obsession with being super again and it could have cost him his marriage. We are only as sick as our secrets.
- The next generation is watching. Our sons and daughters are observing us to see if Dad loves mom faithfully and affectionately.
- You don’t have to settle for mediocrity. As Ellie Fredrickson (another character in the Pixar universe) teaches us, “adventure is out there.” And it’s usually right under our noses.
- You need a challenge. We don’t do well when life comes easy all the time. When we choose to coast in easy mode, we’re usually headed for depression.
- You can wind up fighting for all the wrong things. Like money. Popularity. Power. A comfortable life. When you fight for the wrong things, people around you get hurt and you’re left waiting for an ever-elusive sense of fulfillment.
- You have to choose to lead. Your tribe is waiting, watching, and wondering if you’ll take them onward to victory. They might go without you, but they don’t want to. They want you out front.
- Some principles are worth fighting for, and people are worth dying for. Every man ought to choose to stand up for the defenseless. God wired us to be protectors for a reason.
- The world needs saving. All are lost and hopeless apart from Jesus, and God has chosen to use people to carry his message. You have a mission, and it may seem impossible, but it’s totally worth pursuing.
You don’t have to be Mr. Incredible, the superhero. In fact, no matter how hard we try to imagine into reality, we’ll never be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But you can be like Robert Parr, the real hero, who humbled himself and realized what was really valuable in this world, and decided to fight well for it.