A few days ago, I listened to a podcast episode featuring Captain Tammie Jo Shults who safely landed the severely crippled Southwest Airlines flight 1380. You probably remember hearing about the incident in the news. On April 17 of last year, the flight had departed Le Guardia Airport in New York and was still climbing at 32,000 feet when the left engine failed. It broke in pieces, one of which smashed a hole in one of the windows in the passenger cabin. This caused a rapid depressurization of the airplane, sucking one of the passengers halfway out of the aircraft. With help from Air Traffic Control, and because of the well-executed response from the crew, Captain Shults and First Officer Darren Ellisor were able to land the plane safely in Philadelphia. During this particular interview, the podcast host remarked that he had previously spoken with the Air Traffic Control officer who had assisted with the emergency and he had been a little surprised when he met Captain Shults. He was excited to meet her and was expecting some sort of, “Wow, that was crazy! We did something amazing, saving all those lives!” Instead, she seemed unmoved by her heroics and simply conveyed the attitude that they had done what they were supposed to do - what they were trained to do - nothing more and nothing less.
As I heard that comment, my mind went to something that Jesus said. He told the story of a servant who spent the day working for his master, then came in and prepared food for him. Only after everything else was done could that servant eat and rest. But he shouldn’t be thanked or congratulated, Jesus said, because he was just doing his duty. “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do’” (Luke 17:10). As Christians, we may think that we’re doing an incredible job of serving the Lord or sharing our faith or volunteering in church and in our community; but that’s not something we should be proud of. We are doing what we are supposed to do - doing what we are trained to do - nothing more and nothing less. Yet praise God, He will reward us and the reward will be worth it all!