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Every good work

Heroic airline pilots and ordinary Chick-fil-A employees illustrate the glory of jobs well done

Every good work

A window shattered by debris from one of the engines on Southwest Flight 1380 (Marty Martinez via AP)

The big news story of the week is the remarkable heroism of Capt. Tammie Jo Shults—the Southwest Airlines pilot who calmly landed a heavily damaged jetliner with a single functional engine and a hole gaping in the side of the plane.

Sadly, one passenger died after an engine exploded in midair during the Southwest flight on Tuesday morning. Jennifer Riordan didn’t survive the blunt impact of debris that broke a window, despite the efforts of passengers who pulled her away from the hole and tried to revive her.

But by the time the plane made its emergency landing, Capt. Shults’ precise professionalism had saved 142 other passengers and the flight crew from what could have been a catastrophic crash. 

Moments later, Shults walked through the aisle hugging stunned passengers. 

“It was very touching,” passenger Benjamin Goldstein told The Dallas Morning News. “Here at the most crucial moment, she had the presence of mind and the courage to act with excellence as it was required. It’s a beautiful quality, and we have our lives to thank for it.”

A beautiful quality indeed.

Shults’ friends in her hometown of Boerne, Texas, said the quality was a hallmark of the Christian wife and mother of two, and that it extended beyond her successful career as a Navy and commercial pilot.

A fellow church member at First Baptist Church in Boerne told the paper that Shults had taught nearly every grade level of Sunday school in their congregation. Shults has helped at a school for at-risk kids, and she’s used a guesthouse on her family’s property as a home for victims of Hurricane Rita and for widows.

For Shults, a life of ordinary good works preceded an extraordinary day on the job last Tuesday. When a friend texted Shults to tell her she was praying for her, Shults replied: “Thanks. God is good.”

Simply doing a good job isn’t usually heroic, but if done well, the most ordinary work can bring glory to God as well. Still, not everyone sees the beautiful quality in every good work.

Last week, an over-the-top editorial in The New Yorker excoriated food chain Chick-fil-A for its newest restaurant in Manhattan. Writer Dan Piepenbring was clear about the roots of his disdain: “There’s something especially distasteful about Chick-fil-A. … Its politics, its décor, and its commercial-evangelical messaging are inflected with this suburban piety.”

He balked at the owners’ Christian faith and how the company’s corporate mission statement “still begins with the words ‘to glorify God.’” The satirical news site the Babylon Bee reliably offered a tongue-in-cheek response: “Evil Christians Oppress Secular New Yorkers With Delicious Chicken Sandwiches.”

Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

A Chick-Fil-A in New York City (Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Despite the writer’s disdain for a company with owners who don’t hide their Christian faith, throngs of customers still think the restaurant offers good food and good service. They line up for it, whatever their religious beliefs. 

CEO Dan Cathy isn’t embarrassed that he wants his company to glorify God, or that he wants his workers to care about their customers. 

At a speech in Atlanta in 2015, Cathy told members of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association: “We want to be a brand where good meets gracious. A brand where great food intersects with incredibly gracious people.” 

That’s the heart of good work: Make a good product or deliver a good service for the good of other people. That can be true whether you’re flying a plane or making a sandwich for a hungry customer. Men and women made in the image of their Creator are hard-wired for productivity. 

It’s what King Solomon meant in the book of Ecclesiastes when he said each person should “find enjoyment” in all his toil. That phrase can also be translated “make his soul see good” in all his work.

And sometimes, our work does great good for other people. It certainly was good for passengers of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380. One family friend said she wasn’t surprised when she heard Capt. Shults’ toil had saved the day: “She’s a strong Christian lady. … She was doing her job. … So proud she was able to do her job.”


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  • JerryM
    Posted: Fri, 04/20/2018 08:14 pm

    In a media world of depressing and more depressing news, thanks for this reporting.  It is a very welcome breath of fresh air!

  • Dick Friedrich
    Posted: Sat, 04/21/2018 05:35 am

    Too often we take for granted that our work is not important or mundane but we know by faith that was not always so nor does it have to be today. These are great newsworthy examples that reminded me of this prayer from the Psalms. "Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!" Psalm 90:17 Though not all our work seems this dramatic we may be assured that, in the Lord, it is all significant.

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Sat, 04/21/2018 07:19 am

    Watched the news and they left out the part about the pilot being a Christian.  

    Also on Chick-fil-A:  I have never been to a fast food resturant or any business where the help is so universally helpful.  Every time you compliment a server for their competence or helpful attitude the response is "My pleasure".   Remember that in some areas where Chick-fil-A has established itself it is difficult to find these kind of workers.  I am remined of something an old preacher said about establishing a new church in a resistant community.  "We came when they didn't want us and stayed until they couldn't do without us."  

  • wgbEden Prairie
    Posted: Mon, 04/23/2018 08:52 am

    The elephant in the middle of the room with so many of these critics (The mass media in general, "The New Yorker", and so on) is that they have no moral foundation, just opinions and attitudes. They're quick to criticize but have no bedrock on which to stand. Their relativism is a dead end, and "Relativism: Feet Planted in Mid-Air" by Francis Beckwith and Greg Koukl exposes its hollowness effectively.

  •  FreedomInTejas's picture
    Posted: Mon, 04/30/2018 01:18 pm

    Proverbs 22:29