“Heroes see what everyone else sees, but they do what no one else does.” – Clay Scroggins
That's the truth. When you read the accounts of heroes in action, it's almost always the same. There was an event, a tragedy, a crisis that was not secret. Everybody heard the screams, they all saw the situation, yet only one or two took action. The ones who took the risk, left their comfort, left their convenient observer status—they are the ones who when the tale is told and the event is remembered, are the heroes. They aren't smarter than everyone else, they aren’t braver than everyone else, they aren't more gifted than anyone else. They distinguish themselves by seeing the need and taking action.
Opportunities are often disguised as crises. When there's an opportunity presenting as a crisis, people have different responses. Some are paralyzed—they just stand and talk about the problem. Some are terrified. They run from the crisis, away from the situation, praying that "someone" will do something. And then there are those amazing, memorable people who are different. They are the ones who run into the crisis. They see an opportunity to make a difference! And they do.
We all know this is true from events in history, community happenings, even in things such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters. Some people run into the problem to make a difference. Some observe, discuss, speculate, and even blame. And some just run away. They don’t even want to think about it.
It's the same way for the church in the world. We are living and working with people in a broken world who have great needs. There are never enough workers to meet the opportunities to serve and make a monumental and eternal difference. There's always more we could do, more we should do, more we want to do. What we don't do is not because we don't see it or because we don't care. Sometimes there are too many people standing around talking about it—seeing the situation as a problem, and assigning blame and responsibility for how the situation got to be so bad. Sometimes people who have exactly what is needed to make the life-changing difference don't recognize the opportunity. And others see it and run away. They just don't want to think about it or feel any responsibility.
But there are those who see what everybody else sees and make a difference. They stand up and do what no one else will do. They see the needs as opportunities to invest in people. They see the crisis as a golden opportunity to do something of incredible and lasting significance. They are the heroes.
There are some heroes in my life: people who saw something in me that no one else saw. People who saw needs as opportunities, the very same needs no one else saw as valuable or worth their time. One of those people was a beautiful lady named Nancy Ross. She was a busy mother of three. Nancy and her husband Russ owned a family business that had been passed down from Russ’s father. Russ ran the small neighborhood grocery store and butcher shop. Nancy was his right hand, first assistant. Every buck stopped with them. That meant she was always on call, and more days than not, she had household responsibilities, kids to feed and lead, and then duties at the store. Oh, yes—they also cared for Russell’s aging parents. They lived a short distance from the store, and Nancy needed to stop in there regularly. No question—no one would have had an issue with her taking a pass on serving in this season of life. But she saw a group of early elementary school boys who had no Sunday school teacher. She saw impressionable lives who needed someone who loved Jesus to love them and point them in the right direction. Nancy saw an opportunity for her life to matter. And when my dad, her pastor, looked for a hero to see what everyone else saw, and then go beyond that to do what no one else would do, there was Nancy.
I cannot describe the impact she had on my early years. In fact, she was so influential in my life that one of my favorite stories revolves around her. One fall day I didn’t know where my parents were. They had stepped over to a neighbors for a moment and weren’t home when I arrived home from school. I immediately panicked. Recently I had learned about “the Rapture,” what theologians frequently call the time when Jesus will come back and take the Christians home to be with Him. No one in my family was home, and I knew they would all go with Jesus when He came. The only people I could find were neighbors who were rather notorious for their sinful lifestyles—I KNEW they wouldn’t leave when Jesus came! It did not comfort me that they were home. I was afraid Jesus had come and I was left! Then I had a brilliant idea! I would call my Sunday school teacher, Miss Nancy! There was no one quite like her. If she was still here, I was safe. To my great relief, she answered the phone when I called.
Nancy Ross is one of the heroes whose service and investment have made me who I am. If the ministry of NewPointe Church and my own life has mattered to you, recognize that I wouldn’t be me without Nancy’s service. She saw what everyone else saw, and did what no would else would do. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Nancy.
How about you? Be a hero.
Nancy Ross is on the right, and her sister Ruth Ann is on the left. Both widows, they came to visit my dad in 2014. What powerful, heroic influences these three have been in my life!