Years ago, I was cooking dinner in our kitchen when I heard the ominous sound of something very heavy landing on our roof. The wind had been getting steadily stronger all day, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I looked out our back door and saw that the massive elm tree in our yard had been completely uprooted. Most of it was now resting on the corner of our house, directly above our daughter’s bedroom. We called our insurance company right away, only to find out that there was wide-spread damage in our area and that help would not be coming anytime soon. We were finally able to find a tree company to actually get the tree off our house, but we were put on a waiting list to get the hole in our roof fixed. It was a frustrating situation, and my stress level was off the charts.
A couple of days afterwards, a friend stopped me as I was leaving church and offered me materials to temporarily patch the roof until the professionals could get to it. As he was loading the stuff into my trunk, he also offered to come over and help my husband do the patching if needed. It was such a simple gesture, but I can’t begin to tell you how much it meant to my husband and I. Having someone reach out in a time of need can make all the difference when we are feeling discouraged and overwhelmed.
Looking back on it, I’m not surprised at my friend’s actions. He and his wife were very active in our church in their own quiet way. They didn’t draw attention to themselves, just saw what needed to be done and got to work: teaching the children, working on the building, lending a hand at special events. Whenever and wherever help was needed, they helped. So when they heard that a tree had fallen on our house and we couldn’t find anyone to repair the roof, naturally they stepped in. And they gave me the supplies in the parking lot, after most people had gone home. They didn’t need anyone to witness their generosity.
I’ve been a part of many different groups and organizations over the years, and the one thing they have in common is that they all have a few people in them just like my friends. People who are happy to help with whatever is needed, working in the background and feeling no need to call attention to themselves and their good works. Their work is rarely acknowledged, but they aren’t doing it for the thanks. They are doing it for the simple reason that the work needs to be done. These people see the same problems the rest of us do, but rather than just complaining, they work toward solutions. And while they don’t solicit praise or recognition for themselves, they are quick to offer an encouraging word to others. They are, without exception, the backbone of whatever organization they happen to serve.
There will always be those that seek the limelight and that excel in high-profile, leadership positions. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as every organization has to have someone in that role. But I believe that the true heroes are the ones who prefer to work quietly and efficiently behind the scenes, making sure that whatever needs to happen actually does happen. They are the ones doing the most good, and they are the ones who understand that doing good is its own reward. They are also the people I admire the most.