Sometimes you jump in excitement at having a skill that fits a situation–we all want to be needed.
But when we talk about being needed in terms of “duty,” there are positive & negative connotations. There’s the duty performed with joy and fervor (genuine and earnest), and then the duty performed begrudgingly, without enthusiasm, (ingenuine and corrupted).
But I think one of these connotations is false. Doing your duty sounds like drudgery, and sometimes it is. While a duty performed begrudgingly may not be ideal, a duty performed is, I think, intrinsically heroic.
The hero of the story is not someone who shows up when he feels like it. He presses on in the middle of challenges and suffering ANYWAY. She sacrifces when it’s uncomfortable, when she’s scared or tired.
Heroic duty can be very visible and celebrated, but it can also be quiet and hidden.
A great game to play in your own life is this: try to find the quiet and hidden heroes.
(Fr. Stephen Freeman wrote a beautiful blog post about a similar theme in his post “Weak, Sick, Poor, and Tired: A Story for Losers”)