4 Surprising Hero Stories That Are Sadly Unappreciated

Have You Been an Under-Appreciated Hero?

Hero stories emerge in surprising places

Hero stories rise in unexpected situations

Dave Sanderson was on yet another flight (he flew over 100 times a year). Like clockwork, he knew what came next.

So, just like most of us do, he tuned out when they go over safety details at the beginning of the flight.

Yet this time the information would save a life.

Hero Stories – Making a Tough Choice

This flight was different because he was on US Air flight 1549. This was the flight that was forced to land on the Hudson River after losing both engines shortly after takeoff.

We have all heard about the heroics of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. They even made a movie out of it with Tom Hanks.

But, what about Dave Sanderson?

Dave was the last passenger off the plane. Why? Because he chose to stand in 36-degree water helping everyone else get off the plane. He put the needs of others ahead of his own needs.

That is a hero isn’t it?

4 Examples of Everyday Heroes

One definition of a hero says, “a person noted for courageous, sacrificial acts or nobility of character.”

Dave was a hero that day. Sully was a hero that day.

But, there are countless hero stories aren’t publicized or often noticed. People choosing to be heroic while toiling in obscurity. Here are just 4 of many.

  1. A single parent trying to work a job (or two) while being both a mom and a dad. Although exhausted, he/she continues to give, give, give to their family.
  2. The spouse in a difficult marriage who keeps moving toward his/her spouse in love only to be hurt again.
  3. The man who expends all his time and energy every week to make enough money to provide for his loved ones… only to be disrespected by family members because there isn’t enough money (again).
  4. The son or daughter who gives their time every day to their ailing parent, in spite of the fact that the parent doesn’t appreciate their sacrifice and can be difficult to be around.

These everyday heroics all have the same characteristics:

  • Courageously choosing to do good with seemingly no appreciation for their actions
  • Battling forces that would make it easy to give up… forces like fatigue, discouragement, one’s own unmet needs, negativity, or complaining.
  • No apparent change caused by their actions. Unlike some heroic situations, where you rescue someone and you receive the payoff (gratitude, their safety…), there never seems to be a payoff, even a thank you.

Heroes Resist Choosing the Easier Way

Hero won't give up

Heroes keep going even when it is hard

It is easier to give up, to lash out, to lecture, to focus only on your needs. Like gravity, we are constantly pulled toward the easier way, the me-first way.

But, everyday heroes walk by faith, not by sight. They know their hard, thankless choices align with an inner compass.

When everyday heroes are in line with the inner compass, they sleep better, they hold their head up higher and they have a quiet peace knowing that in the moment of choice, they made the right choice.

It is easier to give up, to lash out, to lecture, or to focus only on your needs. But, true heroes choose the harder, better way.


Acting in Obscurity, Yet Being Noticed

I think there is another reason some people choose to be heroic when no one notices: they know God notices… and will vindicate them one day.

Applause from heaven

God applauds your good choices

There is a promise given in Galatians 6:9 that the hero in obscurity holds onto:

Don’t let weariness or discouragement stop you from doing good. For in due time you will receive a suitable reward for your efforts.

Remind yourself that when you do something in kindness, in love, that is the right thing to do, the unseen eye of God sees and applauds your choice.

Even if no one else does.

Your choice makes him smile. In those moments, he is proud of you. In some way, he even stands up and applauds you.

When you do something in kindness, in love, that is the right thing to do, the unseen eye of God sees and applauds your choice.


Do You Want to Make a Difference Today?

Here are 3 actions I want you to take… beginning today–

  1. Thank a hero today. Look for seemingly insignificant actions that have the scent of a heroic choice. Make their day by noticing… and verbally acknowledging their choice.
  2. Savor being a hero. Stand proud that there have been times in your life, even this week, when you have been an unnoticed hero.
      • When you stepped back into the ring after getting beat up.
      • When you got up after you got knocked down
      • When you kept giving when it would have been easier to give up.
  3. Be a hero today. Intentionally choose today—
      • To bless those who do not bless you in return
      • To be kind to those who don’t notice
      • To be loving, and patient, compassionate, understanding toward those who may not deserve it, but who truly need it.

Keep blessing people, being a force for good… and making God smile.

YOUR TURN! Where have you seen instances of everyday heroics? Leave a comment below!


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10 thoughts on “4 Surprising Hero Stories That Are Sadly Unappreciated

  1. I identify with the thoughts shared in this document. Thanks for the encouragement. For the past 12 years I have been a Transitional Pastor (along with being a Professor at a Seminary & Christian University). When a Pastor has agreed to come as the Sr. Pastor of the church that I was helping as a Transitional Pastor, I am quickly dismissed/forgotten even before I have officially left. I get it – I am just a ‘Temp’ & that is my ministry. Few of the churches have stopped & said ‘Thank you’. However, I do it for God’s glory and not mine. Ultimately, receiving His appreciation & thanks is far more important.

  2. Curtis, thanks for sharing your perspective. The transitional pastor is a great example of a role that is often under-appreciated. Knowing that someone who matters to me sees and applauds certainly helps me keep moving forward when hearing the crickets of silence.

  3. One of my favorite verses is ‘ Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ (Matt 7:12)
    I’m one that holds to an important fact: God knows if we give of ourselves, and that’s what matters the most. He thanks us with peace, a smile, and often times with an unexpected blessings. Great way you shared it all, encouraging me to keep at it, while hopefully getting others to start. Thanks.

  4. Thanks so much Marianne for your comments! Yes, God sees, knows and commends us for loving our neighbor, even if no one else sees or appreciates it. Knowing God is pleased with my efforts keeps me moving ahead.

  5. This is an encouraging post. As a full-time caregiver for elderly parents, there is little joy in my life. Constant insults, cursing and abuse are the norm. I feel numb and disconnected from my emotions, and believe it’s God’s way of safeguarding me so I’m not in tears 24/7. I’m able to pay it forward by sharing positivity with my connections on social media (my only escape).

  6. Thanks Giovanis for sharing your experience with other readers. It is so difficult to care for others when they are not appreciative… or worse. My heart goes out to you. I applaud your service.

    As the article points out, the God who sees all is also applauding your heroic efforts to honor your parents. He understands how difficult it is because He too gives so much to so many and yet they often don’t acknowledge it and are even negative and abusive toward him. Just know that you WILL be rewarded for your service.

  7. Pat,

    I usually do not comment, but today I would like to thank a hero who sends positive messages to others like myself who never say thanks. So today I am saying thanks to you for spreading support and positive guidance to all of us. Some days it’s just what I need to help me make it through a tough day.

    Thank you Pat!

  8. Thank you so much Frank for your kind words. You certainly made my day 🙂 Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to pay it forward by being a positive encourager to the people you interact with today!

  9. Liam Hannon is a SUPERhero. At the age of 10 he skipped going to summer camp and instead made and distributed lunches to the homeless of Cambridge, MA. The first day he distributed 20 lunches. From there it blossomed. He gives freely of his time to reach out to the homeless and is now giving out 50-60 lunches every week. He began Liam’s Lunches of Love and now at the age of 12 he is also collecting LEGOs and school supplies for those in need. He is a Young Wonder no one can stop. Check it out: http://www.liamslove.com

  10. Great story Jonathan! Thanks for sharing about Liam. I applaud his efforts.
    It makes me think of two quotes:
    — Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.
    — Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.