Leadership Lesson At 30,000 Feet

We were getting ready to take off from Monterrey International Airport in Mexico. We had just spent a wonderful week at Possibilities House For Children. After walking down the narrow aisle, contorting to put my luggage in the overhead compartment, doing a twist and a side move, I ended up sitting next to a fellow Canadian.

After exchanging pleasantries we moved to the “tell me about yourself” part of the conversation. She was in Mexico on business, a mom of two and was looking forward to going home. As we talked about travel, she mentioned her husband flies each week. The territory for his work is literally the Nation of Canada. Some weeks take him from the East Coast to the West Coast (5000 Miles). Needless to say, his frequent flyer miles and perks must be through the roof.

She went on to tell a story about one of the trips they took together. As they boarded the plane as usual, her husband knew most of the crew but this flight was different because the President of the airline was on board. My first thought was, the crew must have been on their best behaviour that flight but what she said next surprised me. The big boss, made all the crew sit down and he dragged that heavy awkward silver serving cart up and down the aisle by himself and served everyone on the plane. WOW!! Let me say it again. WOW!! Of course, he had every right to sit and be served but he chose not to. What a practical example of servant leadership.

For some people the heaviest thing to pick up is the towel.

Imagine the “return” on that simple act of serving. Once people on the flight came to understand what was happening how many tweets and Facebook posts do you think that garnered? Let alone the, “You not gonna believe what happened on the flight today!” talk as soon as they got off the plane and headed home. How do you think the crew felt being served and knowing that the boss is ready to roll up his sleeves and put his shoulder to the wheel?

Like the Big Boss, Jesus has every right to be served.

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. – Philippians 2:6

Like the Big Boss, Jesus decided to no hang onto and exercise the privilege of his office.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. -Philippians 2:7

Like the Big Boss, Jesus decided to serve instead of being served.

 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:45

Whether we are the big boss or not we all lead in some way. What is your attitude when it comes to your position, as boss, volunteer leader, parent or what have you?

What is your example this week of asking the staff to sit and taking the trolley up and down the aisle serving the plane? Don’t have one? The flight’s not over yet so get the cart and start serving.

In going the extra mile we find no traffic jams.

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Written by Peter Walters

Peter has been married to his wonderful wife Sarah for 29 years and they have two children.


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  1. Great example of leadership. Wish I had this story as an illustration last week when we were talking about the “Serve” action step in “Life on Mission” (I may squeeze it in this week anyway)!

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