Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.
The story about Charles Plumb, “Who Packs Your Parachute”, is a strong and interesting true story that has been shared with many people over the years during lectures and leadership courses.
One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”
“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.
“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.
Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said ‘Good morning, how are you?’ or anything, because, you see, I was a fighter pilot, and he was just a sailor.”
Plumb thought of the man-hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.
Who’s parachute are you packing?
There is an universal truth as it pertains to the church. We need each other. In fact, the Bible is very clear that without the contribution of each member, the church does not properly function. Notice what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:19-22,
“And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.”
Why? Because truthfully, if we all possessed the same talents, the same abilities, the same strengths and even weaknesses, where would the body be? The answer is simple. It would be lacking what you can contribute whether great or small. You see, the truth of the matter remains. We need each other. Therefore, let us conclude that although you may not be able to do what others can; there is no gift given by God that is not both useful and beneficial to the growth and vitality of this congregation.