Heroes Often Go a Lifetime with No Recognition

I’ve yet to meet anyone who answered my question of “what do you want to do with your life?” by saying “something no one will notice in my lifetime.” No, in fact, most people say they either want to change the world or they’d like to make a significant contribution within their community.

When I meet with someone for the first time over coffee one of my common questions is to ask what the person would like to accomplish in the next 5 years. I ask this question because I think I can get to know the heart of a person by understanding their personal goals. Amazingly, no one has ever answered by saying, “I’d like to do something hard that no one will know about.”

Everyone wants to be a world-changer, but few are willing to go a lifetime without recognition before becoming recognized for their contribution. Think of the many people who we honor as heroes within our society:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. was hated by an overwhelming amount of people, even Christians who thought he was distorting the Christian message into liberation theology. He was killed for trying to change the world and rarely received the recognition he deserved during his lifetime.
  • Jackie Robinson was one of the most hated men in New York as he crossed the color-barrier in baseball. Today he is recognized as a hero.
  • Mother Theresa was hardly a household name until she was well advanced in age. For many decades she put in unrecognized, hard work in India, serving people outcast from society.
  • Jesus Christ had 12 extremely close friends, 1 of which deserted him. All the others cowered in fear for their own lives as he was crucified. No man has inflicted more impact in our world than Jesus, and yet, only a small handful of people followed Him during His earthly ministry.

“We can be in our day what the heroes of faith were in their day — but remember at the time they didn’t know they were heroes.” -A.W. Tozer

I meet a lot of people who act like they have arrived, yet I’m always struck by the people who have arrived, but don’t know it. These are the people we remember long after they have passed.

John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.”