“Who’s packing your chute?”

Charles Plum, US Naval Academy graduate, flew jet fighters off the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War. On his 75th mission, a SAM (surface-to-air missile) destroyed his plane.

Plum ejected and parachuted into enemy hands and spent six years in a Communist prison. He survived that ordeal and now spends time lecturing on lessons he learned during that experience.

One day while sitting with his wife in a restaurant a man from another table walked over and said, “You’re Plum! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam off the Kitty Hawk and were shot down!” Plum responded, “How in the world did you know that?” The man replied, “I packed your parachute.” Plum gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man grabbed his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plum assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

All great leaders know that no one makes it alone. They keep a grateful heart and are quick to acknowledge those who helped them succeed. They also know that every person you step on during your climb to the top, not to expect their outstretched hand to help break your fall on the way back down. At some point everyone needs someone to pack his or her chute.

There’s no such thing as a self-made person. Any man or woman who tries it is usually a self-made mess and everyone around them is miserable. George Adams said, “Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the makeup of our character and our thoughts, as well as our success.” Make yourself indispensable to others as some have made themselves to you.

In 1969, the Hollies recorded a song, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” Father Flanagan, founder of Boys Town in Nebraska, used those words originally recorded in 1884 by James Wells in his book, “The Parables of Jesus.”

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens.” This means stand should to shoulder and share the burdens of life, especially on the days when those close to you cannot pack their own chute!