Have you ever seen an action movie where the hero and villain are confused? Where the citizens think the villain is responsible for the good, and the hero is responsible for the bad? The vulnerable citizens subject themselves to whomever they think their hero is.

What if people today are confused about who the real hero is?

The kind of person we look up to or want to be like often possesses qualities like happiness, compassion, smilingness, expressive, generosity—someone like Mother Theresa. The main quality people praise is how nice someone is. Nice.

Mediocrity is praised far too much today. The work project that someone calls perfect when it really was barely acceptable. The team where they say, “Good teamwork,” when they’re really fighting against one another. The devotional group where someone explains a Scripture passage, and everyone agrees when the explanation was wrong or surfacy.

So what if we are looking to the wrong heroes? Does “nice” really make someone worth wanting approval from, desiring to be like them, or giving praise to them?

To have high standards is to have high hopes for someone.

“Good work,” said my coach when I gave it my best. He said nothing when it got hard and I gave up.

“I struggle with seeing the potential for good in other people,” I confessed to my roommate. She and I were devotional group leaders together, and she saw the benefit of being honest. “That’s probably from an inflated view of yourself,” my roommate said.

“You spend too much time on your phone during chapel,” my friend told me from the seat beside me. That was none of her business. I wanted to tell her that it helps me focus whenever I can clear away the distractions, but I tried putting my phone away anyway. Now my phone stays on silent.

The friend that didn’t laugh at my sketchy joke, the mom that didn’t give an insincere compliment, the teacher that wouldn’t give me a good grade until I earned it, the professor that told me I didn’t try hard enough, the dad that told me I needed to toughen up and stop worrying about titles and start serving.

That person may not be nice, but they are my hero.

Bravery is the real definition of a hero. How much more bravery does it take to be honest?

Niceness can be a tool for winning over a person or gaining popularity—selfish motives. But who really has your respect?

Bravery is being willing to point out the flaws in someone else to increase their joy and success. 1 John 15:11 says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

People that make me feel comfortable are people that change me. Wrong. The people that make me uncomfortable and give me something to think about have more of an effect on me than the people that accepted me the way I was.

Who are your heroes?