January 15, 2009 was just a routine day for airline Captain Chesley Sullenberger, affectionately known as Sulley and First Officer Jeff Skiles. US Airways Flight 1549 was a routine flight until it crossed paths with a flock of Canadian geese just after takeoff. Within the span of 100 seconds, life-altering decisions had to be made based on experience, training, and thousands of hours of flight time. The lives of 155 passengers and crew lying in the balance, Sully showed the discipline to channel his emotions and prioritize necessary actions, deciding that landing the aircraft in the Hudson River was the only option. He then had to calmly, but with authority, effectively communicate to the cabin and crew what needed to happen without a soliloquy. “Brace for Impact!”
As millions watched this miracle unfold, the first scripture that came to my mind was Jude:24, “Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling…” (KJV). The plane landed safely on the water, the passengers and crew evacuated and no lives were lost. What a mighty God we serve! I am not saying that God landed the plane. However, being the Master Air Traffic Controller, I am convinced He directed the people and their actions.
When interviewed later about the incident, Sulley admitted there were no simulators that could recreate a water landing. The only instruction and training they had was an in class lecture. What if he had tuned out that part as something He would never have to worry about? During those incredible 100 seconds, he didn’t have time to go through everything on a checklist. He knew that a water landing would require keeping the nose of the aircraft elevated, so he flipped a switch that would have been done a couple of steps later.
This was a God ordained moment in time. Certainly, the passengers are grateful for the diligence, experience, knowledge and decisiveness of Sulley and Skiles. They are thankful that these pilots were assigned to this particular flight. I believe the Lord placed His super on the natural actions of the captain and crew, holding that plane together during the landing, allowing everyone to make it out safely.
Leadership involves training, skill, discipline, diligence, evaluating priorities, and effective communication. It is extremely important in your occupation, but even more so in ministry. Being connected with the right local fellowship that causes you to grow and prepares you for inevitable, unexpected trials and experiences of life is paramount. When a flock of geese hits our lives, it is in these moments we realize we dare not take ministry leadership for granted. It is often these connections that position and qualify us for the miraculous.