One day, a Delta twin-engine puddle jumper was flying somewhere above New Jersey. There were five people on board: the pilot, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Billy Graham, and a hippie.
Suddenly, an illegal oxygen generator exploded in the luggage compartment, and the passenger cabin filled with smoke. The pilot burst through the cockpit door and emerged among the passengers.
“Gentlemen,” he began, “I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that we’re about to crash in New Jersey. The good news is that there are four parachutes, and I have one of them!”
With that, the pilot threw open the escape hatch and leaped from the plane.
Barack Obama found his feet in a flash. “Gentlemen,” he said in his comforting dulcet baritone, “I am the president, and our nation needs me.”
With that, Obama grabbed one of the remaining parachutes and hurled himself through the door and into the night.
Bill Gates rose and smoothed the pleats on his pants. “Gentlemen,” he said, “I am arguably the world’s smartest man. The world needs smart men, and I think the world’s smartest man should have a parachute, too.” He too grabbed one and made the jump.
Billy Graham and the hippie looked at one another. Finally, Billy Graham spoke. “My son,” he said, “I have lived a long and satisfying life. I know that heaven is my future home. You have your whole life ahead of you, so you take a parachute. I will go down with the plane.”
The hippie just scratched his head and said, “Hey, don’t worry, man. The world’s smartest man just jumped out the plane wearing my backpack.”
This tongue-in-cheek little tale highlights a valuable principle. When the pressure is on, you find out what’s inside you. I’ve heard it put that we’re all like cups, and whatever’s inside of us spills out when we’re bumped.
The natural tendency in a pressure situation is to protect your own interests. But the problem is, if everyone is protecting their own interests, then the community quickly becomes aggressive. Dog-eat-dog. First one to the parachute wins.
Or so it seems.
Let me suggest a different strategy. Instead of fighting over the parachute, give it to the other person and trust God to take care of you.
Philippians 2:4 says, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Try that today, and I promise your world will feel a lot more peaceful.