Unsung Heroes

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Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

(Phil 2.3-4)


Christlikeness cannot be found in the selfish exercise of pride and power. It can only be found in the humility of service, placing the interests of others above our own. This is the Apostle Paul’s unequivocal message in these verses.

His words set a high bar in today’s culture, in which work is often about meeting targets, being seen as a high achiever, and gaining favour with managers. Even in our social lives, including at church, we can often feel under pressure to draw attention to ourselves.

Throughout a long career in retail, I led many annual general meetings with grand presentations and fancy graphs. I knew these would go down well with Head Office. But the excitement in the room would be at its highest when we invited onto the stage the store’s unsung heroes; those spending all day on their feet, diligently serving, cleaning, and moving stock. I knew that, without these people, it would be impossible to build corporate success.

At this point in the meetings, the warmth and affection expressed towards such workers by their colleagues was palpable, even though the recipients of it often felt surprised and daunted. Unselfish pride in seeing unsung heroes recognised brought unity and commitment way beyond my strategic plans and ambition. The ripples of excitement would frequently reach family members. They too cherished the moments when their mother, son, or sister was publicly and unexpectedly acknowledged for their character and service.

When we seek personal affirmation and preferment, we miss opportunities to value others as God values us and to build relationships that are untainted by our desire for advantage. We need to trust God for success in our work, rather than manipulating others to achieve our desired results. Exercising such trust is liberating, as it frees us from the conceit that prevents us from becoming the humble servants God is looking for to help build his kingdom.


Let us take up Paul’s challenge directly. Think of the unseen people on whom our work relies, and on whose help our communities and institutions thrive. Go out of your way to offer them genuine words of thanks, praise, and encouragement. 


Lord, help us always to be mindful of the needs of other people, rather than our own. May we value all those we interact with this week. May our voice of encouragement speak to them of your love.

Published by kind permission of Faith in Business

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