Nobody Needs a Hero

Luke Baker | July 16, 2018

I ran through the freshly mowed field with my teammates, experiencing more than the usual levels of excitement and nerves before a race. The tensions were at an all-time high. Like a terrifying mixture of running on cloud nine with noodles as my legs.

It was my first collegiate cross-country race. A moment I had been dreaming of for years. Thousands of miles had led to this moment, and I was ready to make the most of it. I was ready to prove myself.

As we completed the warm-up and approached the starting line, a senior on the team addressed the freshmen. He spoke some about the importance of working together and then said these few words that I’ll never forget, “Boys, nobody needs a hero today.”

At first, those words stung. Nobody needs a hero? But that’s what I’ve been training to be. And this race is where I earn my cape.

Then, when I took a second to think about what he was saying, I felt a sense of peace. He was right.

The greatest cross-country teams race in numbers. Two, three, five people working together to create the best possible team performance. When one runner strives to make a name for themselves, refusing to work alongside their teammates, people end up hurting alone and as a whole.

To have a teammate in the trenches, hurting with you stride for stride, makes a monumental difference. And the remarkable reality is they don’t even have to do anything special. No words to be spoken. You’re hurting too much from the work to even think about speaking. No strategies to be outlined. It’s too late for that. No heroic deeds needed. A teammate’s presence alone makes all the difference.

And that’s the point my senior teammate was making-there’s no pressure to prove yourself through heroic action. Just work hard and be present for your people. 

No matter what type of team you're on today, it can be easy to fall for the lie that it’s your job to be the hero for your team. To make dramatic, bold decisions in an effort to carry your team over the finish line. We can even fall for this lie in our relationships.

We’re all on the same journey home, with each one of us experiencing our own unique, real struggles along the way. Uncalled for heroes are the ones who feel as if they have to use the perfect words and actions in order to fix every problem and broken person on their path. But that was never our calling. 

People don’t need a hero. And they don't need perfection from us. People need us present in their trenches. Don’t know what to say? That’s completely fine. The odds are, your hurting friend has heard enough advice. Don’t know what scripture to suggest? Perfectly OK. God can use your presence in someone’s life just as much as His Word.

From the beginning, God had only one hero in mind. Jesus does the rescuing, the changing, the making of all things right. Jesus does the carrying over the finish line. And He chooses us as His partners.

We can partner with Him in His mission by rejecting the desire to be a hero, and instead, choosing to be present and patient with the people around us. There is no need to break away from the pack to claim our cape. You and others are stronger when you give the pack your full presence, while pointing to the true Hero.

You have nothing to prove, leader. Lay down the cape. Jump in the trenches with your team. And practice being present in the covering of your true Hero, Jesus.

Luke Baker is the Digital Content Producer at Catalyst. He is a lover of tea and Twitter, and cares too much about his Uber passenger rating. 

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