A sign stating, “Heroes walk through these doors,” greets our senior living employees as they enter each morning. Every aspect of healthcare has changed and definitely requires a new level of physical, emotional, and mental stamina. Many in healthcare have walked away, requested leave of absence, or taken more extreme measures due to the level of burnout and stress compounded by COVID-19. Still many more show up faithfully every day despite knowing the risk firsthand. The Oxford dictionary defines a hero as “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Yes, healthcare workers are essential and should indeed be labeled as heroes.
We are fortunate to know many heroes.
Healthcare workers have their own special place as heroes in current circumstances, especially those on the front lines. But I also think about some other heroes. I have always appreciated our teachers and think they too should wake up to a hero banner. They have had to adjust to a new way of teaching that leaves them wondering about the well-being of their students. Are they learning? Are they well? Teachers can post math and science lessons and possibly even chat online with those students who have access. But what about those who don’t?
Teachers do more than teach.
Our teachers are often the voice of reason for many children who do not have a stable home life. In many cases, teachers are assessing for nutritional status, emotional well-being, hygiene, and many other things. Children who do not have access to positive adult influence, clean laundry, or regular meals are typically led to resources by their teachers. If the ability to command the attention and maintain control of twenty plus students were not enough, add that to their list of superhero traits. Yes, let’s remember teachers are essential heroes too.
Heroes of a unique time in ministry.
Church leaders and pastoral staff have a unique challenge right now to meet the needs of their flock. Comfort and witnessing are no longer delivered via tangible visits. If I were to be hospitalized right now, I know my church would be praying fervently for me and that would bring comfort. But there is something special in a face-to-face visit that can’t be replicated. We must not forget, however, that the power of prayer exists beyond walls and God has the ability to transcend time and space. Let’s remember patients who are battling health concerns and fears in our hospitals without visitors. They are heroes by the very definition of courage alone.
Many churches are doing drive by visits through neighborhoods of their church families, dropping off care packages for the youth and children, or mailing letters of encouragement to their members. Bible studies and small group meetings have been moved to a new platform, all of which I have enjoyed. These are all wonderful ways to keep the church community engaged but require an additional layer of creativity and thought. Our church leaders must step into the unknown and adapt to changing circumstances, which is definitely a hallmark of heroes. Yes, let’s remember our church leaders are essential heroes too.
Parents are everyday heroes…. every day.
As I try to manage working outside of the home, supervising online school, preparing meals, grocery pick up lists, and Sunday school lessons for my children each week I am reminded of other everyday heroes: parents. It does not take one long to notice the parents on social media. Despite having less out of home commitments, most parents are juggling more balls in the air each day during a time of increased gravitational pull. This requires additional energy to maintain, especially when some are invisible (like bottled up emotions of children that explode during dinner prep).
Parents have always been heroes, but especially now with new tasks to incorporate into an already demanding job. She’s the mom who is now homeschooling in addition to her work from home tasks and preparing three meals per day. Let’s remember the mom who worries about her child’s lack of socialization with other children (or hers with other adults). The dad who arranges soccer skills practice before dinner while wondering when his children will play on an organized team again. The mom or dad who now work longer hours but wish they were home with their children who don’t quite understand why they can’t be. Yes, let’s remember parents as essential heroes.
God uses many kinds of heroes.
The list goes on and on including our military, grandparents, neighbors, baby sitters, postal workers, delivery drivers, grocery store employees, small business owners, and tech support. Everyone is looking for new ways to serve, new ways to reach those in their circle, and new ways to survive while doing what needs to be done. Our national security remains a priority, mail and packages must be delivered, shelves must be stocked, web sites must be updated, and our technology challenged loved ones must learn how to use newfangled means to communicate . They are all essential heroes. Every last one. Let’s remember them all.
We are all called to be heroes.
As I reflect on what this sign means to me personally and what it means to be a hero, I think of the Body of Christ. Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Corinthians.
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.”1 Corinthians 12:12 NLT
We all have a purpose to serve for the glory of God and one is not more significant than another.
“Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.”1 Corinthians 12:14-18 NLT
Read that again: God has put each part just where he wants it. It may seem as though we are not fulfilling our purpose but trust God. He knows what He is doing. When I start to doubt this, I find it helpful to look back over the last few years and look at the path God has led me. Whether it was an unwanted job change, a new neighborhood, or new friendship circles I can see His hand in all of it. I am where He wants me to be and so are you. If we are not, He will certainly move us.
Heroes come in many forms.
You can be a hero to those within your reach right where you are, which as we are told, is right where He wants us. Friends, even though I wish I could be with my kids more, I am right where He wants me serving those I am to serve and so are you. We are called to focus on serving well to those within our reach and God will take care of the rest.
If you are an eye, see well.
If you are an ear, hear well.
If you are a mouth, speak well.
If you are a foot, step well.
Every part is essential and has a purpose. God does not classify people as essential or nonessential. God will make sure the body of Christ is complete as we all remember to serve within our reach. We are all called to be heroes defined by courage and noble character. Remember, YOU are an essential hero of the Body of Christ. He sees you and He will remember even when no one else does.