By John D. Pierce

The title “Sunday hero” is sometimes attributed to those uniformed speedsters who with a simple hand-off can run a football for several yards down a well groomed, carefully marked-off field to the applause of thousands. But the real Sunday heroes are those who smilingly greet us at the nursery and children’s department doors of our churches and to whom we hand off our children for an important hour or two.

Sunday heroes are also those who rise early on the Lord’s Day to make sure the church is comfortable, the lights are on and there is no ice on the front steps. Sunday heroes are those who miss needed Bible study and fellowship with peers in order to teach those younger or older. Sunday heroes are those who drive out of their way to give someone a ride to church who otherwise would not make it.

Pastors get their names on signs, stand before gathered crowds and hear kind words as they shake the hands of those departing. Editors get their words mass produced and, at least occasionally, read by many. Denominational leaders have photos splattered across displays, digests and brochures.

But real Sunday heroes go less notice in their service for the kingdom. If they were not in place and doing what they faithfully do each week, however, they would surely be noticed. But it is their unnoticed faithfulness to the task that makes them Sunday heroes. And these heroes don’t limit their faithfulness to just Sundays.

They prepare Bible lessons or children’s activities even when they have a headache or need to do something around the house. They visit those who are sick, but never feel a need to report it. They prepare food for church events and for families who grieve. They pray a lot.

Several years ago at an association meeting the reports – as they often do – pushed the session well beyond schedule. Several women from the host church had voluntarily prepared a delightful meal for the many guests to enjoy between sessions. The minister scheduled to speak acknowledged the time problem, but insisted taking much longer than necessary to have his say.

The title of his message I do not remember. The real message he gave, however, was that his ministry gifts were more important than those of the dear servants trying to keep dinner warm while he enjoyed the spotlight for just shy of an hour.

We do an injustice to our Sunday heroes when we take them for granted. Sunday heroes do not fulfill their ministry task to receive human praise. But it might help many of us to gain a better perspective on true Christian servanthood if we are conscious enough of their important contributions to at least lovingly affirm them.

Editor’s Note: Reprinted from The Christian Index, November 13, 1997.