Sometimes I sit and think about the great men and women (and lions) I would like to sit down and talk with in heaven. Here is a list of ten with whom this fantasy will never be possible. They are still alive though – inside of me. And each has taught me something great. Though fictional, each has been an inspirational mentor for me. And if you apply the truth they taught, it will change you life forever. Here they are.
1. Mister Miyagi
Possibly the most important lesson from a man who can catch a fly with chopsticks? BALANCE. Mr. Miyagi wasn’t just a Karate master, he was also a good fisherman and a good cook, who kept his house clean.
You are only competing against yourself at the end of the day, and this is the only competition that truly matters. If you are a stronger you today than you were yesterday, than you have won.
“It’s okay to lose to opponent. It’s never okay to lose to fear!”
“First learn stand. Then learn fly…nature’s rule, not mine.”
2. Gandalf the Grey
I love Gandalf. He is a beacon of goodness and faith. One who believes that light will always conquer darkness. He is patient. He is powerful but humble. He also knows a lot of great wizard tricks, has a fast white horse, and knows how to put on a great fireworks show. No wonder hobbits and dwarfs go on adventures with him.
3. Terrence Mann
People will come. People will most definitely come.
I love this character because he shows that faith is worth it. Even when it looks like you are about to lose your house and all that you own, have faith in your dreams. We need more mentors who encourage us to have faith in the greatness of our dreams.
- Love is more powerful than hate.
One of my favorite quotes that I read almost everyday in the MTC when I was trying to become a missionary who believed he could learn Spanish was what Yoda said:
“You must unlearn what you have learned.”
I wrote that on a note card and carried it with me everywhere. I had learned my whole life that I couldn’t do something that seemed impossible. To me, learning Spanish seemed impossible. So I unlearned what I had learned and was taught by God. And then I started to learn. I stopped trying to learn Spanish without faith in the God who knows all languages. And I started doing.
“Do or do not. There is no Try.”
You were right Yoda.
5. Peter Appleton
***!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!*** (if you haven’t seen The Majestic and want to, don’t read or watch this)
This is the best part of one of my favorite movies of all time, The Majestic. Peter Appleton stands up for truth. And he does it at the potential cost of going to prison for contempt in front of a supreme court judge. His slick lawyers had come up with a statement to get him out of being accused of being a communist. All he had to do was read it and he would be set free and everything would be back to normal. Hmm, and he would be lying and not standing up for the truth. But no matter the cost would be, he stood for integrity at all costs.
We need more Peter Appletons in our world. President Gordon B. Hinckley reaffirms this fact:
“You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence…Stand up for truth in a world of sophistry…Stand up for integrity in your business, in your profession, in your home, in the society of which you are a part…Again, it is not enough that you retreat to your private cloister and pursue only your special private interests. Your strong voice is needed. The weight of your stance may be enough to tip the scales in the direction of truth.” 1
Aslan is the personification of Christ in lion form in the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. The character who sings a world into existence and is the guiding force by which all things live and are governed. The One who creates and the One who atones. He guides and teaches. He fights and wins the battles for truth and good. He is their master. And He reminds those that enter His land that this is their true country.
Here is a bit of Narnian wisdom from Aslan:
“You doubt your value, don’t run from who you are.”
“All get what they want; they do not always like it.”
7. Bishop Bienvenu
Bishop Bienvenu from Les Miserables is one of the most Christlike characters in all of literature in my opinion. Because of this man’s love and forgiveness, Jean Valjean became a different man. He taught that forgiveness was more powerful than hate and revenge.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson summarizes this amazing man very well:
Near the beginning of the story, Bishop Bienvenu gives food and overnight shelter to the homeless Jean Valjean, who has just been released from 19 years in prison for having stolen a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving children. Hardened and embittered, Valjean rewards Bishop Bienvenu’s kindness by stealing his silver goods. Later detained by suspicious gendarmes, Valjean falsely claims the silver was a gift to him. When the gendarmes drag him back to the bishop’s house, to Valjean’s great surprise, Bishop Bienvenu confirms his story and for good effect says, “‘But! I gave you the candlesticks also, which are silver like the rest, and would bring two hundred francs. Why did you not take them along with your plates?’ …
“The bishop approached him, and said, in a low voice:
“‘Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man.’
“Jean Valjean, who had no recollection of this promise, stood confounded. The bishop … continued, solemnly:
“‘Jean Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!’”
Jean Valjean indeed became a new man, an honest man and a benefactor to many. Throughout his life he kept the two silver candlesticks to remind him that his life had been redeemed for God. 2
This story of the silver candlesticks has saved me from the cancer of hate and bitterness that come when one does not forgive. Forgiveness heals and changes you. And though I will never be able to speak with Bishop Bienvenu, I love him because of this and I thank God for Victor Hugo’s imagination that created such a powerful shadow of Christ.
8. Buddy the Elf
Okay so this one is silly, but really I think Buddy teaches us some great lessons. One of which is this:
“I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!”
Everyone needs a little more Christmas cheer like Buddy has. He is just like a pure little child. Yes, he is very naive, but I just smile when I think about how childlike Buddy is and how much it makes me want to relax, go make snow angels for two hours and then finish off by snuggling. And sometimes I’m a cotton-headed ninny muggins myself. But I smile anyway! And you should too!
9. Abbe Faria
This is my favorite part of the whole movie (and book) when the character who Edmund Dantes calls “Priest” (Abbe Faria) helps Dantes to learn. He exchanges his labor (in digging a hole out of prison) for knowledge. Dantes helps to provide physical freedom in exchange for intellectual freedom. I love the following conversation after Priest has been injured and is taking his last breaths. He teaches Dantes a lesson that I have had to repeat to myself many times about God:
Abbe Faria: Here is your final lesson – do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God said, Vengeance is mine.
Edmond Dantes: I don’t believe in God.
Abbe Faria:It doesn’t matter. He believes in you. 3
It doesn’t matter if you believe in God at the moment, He believes in you. In some of the darker moments of my life, I have had to remember this fact that even when what I feel like saying is that “I don’t believe in God”, I always remember Abbe Faria’s statement: It doesn’t matter, He believes in you. I know God believes in me and I know that He believes in you too. He believes in all of us because He knows what we were like before we came here and He raised us. We are His children, literal spiritual offspring. And He knows that we can do it. He believes in us even when we forget to believe in Him.
“Oh yes, the past can hurt. But you can either run from it, or learn from it.”
Well said Rafiki. The past can hurt, but we can’t go on living the hakuna-matata life while we are born to be kings and queens. That is the truth. We are all born to become like God is. Sometimes we forget who we are by forgetting our Father in Heaven, but our very own Mufasa is beckoning to us to “Remember! Remember who you are!” We must learn from our past and move forward in the present to a bright future as a king or queen. This has always stayed with me. And I thank Rafiki for his wisdom.
Gandalf the Grey, Mister Miyagi, Terrence Mann, Yoda, Peter Appleton, Aslan, Bishop Bienvenu, Buddy the Elf, Abbe Faria, Rafiki. All have become a part of me. Each a mentor who has inspired me to live better – to become my highest self. And though I will never be able to thank them personally, they will live on as part of the moral fiber of my soul for the rest of eternity.
***You may have noticed all of these are male characters. Well, I have learned from female characters too and am working on another post of fictional female characters as well. Subscribe to our newsletter and like us on facebook to make sure you don’t miss it!