Unsung heroes are the real heroes.
Why do I say that?
Because that which is truly heroic is sacrificial, and often unheralded. The acts of unsung heroes enable the known heroes to achieve heroism. These are the individuals behind the scenes. In fact, we will never know the names of some of the greatest heroes, because their deeds were done out of the limelight.
A true hero lays down his or her life for someone else to be successful, to be whole, to live – regardless of whether others are looking or not.
Recently, I saw two movies in which the main character – the unsung hero – was the person who gave up their own fame and success to make someone else successful. By the end of each film, I was inspired by their example. They were more appealing than the “hero” they were serving.
So, what is your concept of success? Is it “being out front?” Is it getting your name recognized? Or … is it making others successful? If we take Yeshua’s teaching at face value, we immediately understand His approach to the question.
In Matthew 20, the Lord rebukes His disciples for “one-upmanship”. They want the better place.
He says, “In my kingdom, he who would be great must serve everybody else.“
The goal is not “How much can I get and when will people pay attention to me?” Rather the goal is “How can I support, help, bless, and equip the other person, enabling them to achieve?“
In Philippians 2 the apostle tells us to “prefer others before yourselves.” This is a hard saying. My natural instinct is to relate to life from within my own skin. How can I possibly let go of me in order to make someone else my priority? This requires a change of heart. It requires the heart of God inside me – Yeshua’s heart!
What did God mean when He said, in Ezekiel 37, “I will take out the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh?” This touches my true, inner attitudes toward the success of others. Do I resent them? When someone legitimately asks for my help, am I willing to set aside my priorities? What will it cost to make someone else successful?
Overcoming Mt. Everest and Deaf/Blindness
Tenzing Norgay was the Sherpa guide who accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary in the first ascent to Mt. Everest in history. On an earlier expedition, Norgay saved Hillary’s life, by acting instantly when Hillary fell into an ice crevasse. This led to their partnership in the future summit attempt. After the unprecedented accomplishment of scaling the world’s highest peak – where even breathing is almost impossible – they refused to say which of them was the first to the top. That’s how essential the Sherpa’s heroic assistance was to the “leader”, Hillary.
Anne Sullivan was teacher and mentor to Helen Keller, a six year old who had been unable to communicate after becoming both blind and deaf since the age of two. Hired in desperation, only 20, and nearly blind herself, Sullivan was charged with taming the wild and confused child. Anne proceeded to work a “miracle”. Less than a month after meeting Helen, in April 1887, she broke through in a timeless moment while holding the child Helen’s hands under water flowing from a well-pump. From that instant, Helen rapidly learned to read and finally, to talk. She became the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree (1904).
Keller’s autobiography, The Story of My Life, has been translated into 50 languages. Mark Twain called her one of the two most interesting characters of the 19th century. Yet without Sullivan, who became a lifelong friend and companion, Keller would be unknown.
People all around us need the investment of our life, in order to become more than they are. Healing on the inside often requires a relationship of selfless, persevering love. I’ve come to believe in “mentoring”, and have seen breakthroughs from giving time to individuals “behind the scenes”. Yes, I still speak and write publicly. But some of the most rewarding fruit I’ve witnessed happens far from the platform, in one-on-one settings.
Ask God to show you someone in whom to invest your life. Make them a success. Be an unsung hero, a real hero!
This article originally appeared in Israel’s Restoration Newsletter, June 2016 and reposted with permission.