Do You Trust Your Pilot?

Can you remember a time when you were flying in a plane and it made a sudden turn that made you feel scared, helpless, and wondering if you could trust the pilots to get you to your destination safely? Do you remember feeling out of control, as someone else was in charge and your fate was in their hands?

Working for an organization, including a church or ministry, is kind of like a plane in flight. The senior leaders are up front getting data from private channels and have a perspective out the windshield that no one else has. Most people on the proverbial plane are going about their lives without considering the competency of the pilots’ leading, until there is a hard turn and they feel it.

A commercial pilot in our church explained these turns as “bank angles” where one wing stoops down. He said that the response of the passengers directly correlates to the degree of the turn. For example:

  • 25–30 degrees: 1.1–1.2 g-force on the body, most people won’t feel a thing.
  • 45 degrees: 1.5 g-force, people start to feel it.
  • 60 degrees: 2-2.5 g-force, people really feel it and start to freak out.
  • 70–80 degrees: Around 5 g-force, people start getting tunnel vision as the blood rushes out of their eyes.

Ideally, an organization makes as many 25–30 degree turns as possible. If so, there can be ongoing changes and course corrections without people freaking out and panicking, running through the proverbial cabin. But, sometimes a really hard turn simply has to be made. Those on the plane usually don’t understand why, because they neither have the data nor see the reality that’s confronting the pilots flying the plane. Those on the plane have five basic options on how they will respond when the organizational plane makes a hard-banked angle turn:

1. JUMP OUT OF THE PLANE

Stand up, freak out, make a scene, grab a parachute, and jump out of the plane with your résumé in hand hoping to land a job somewhere else. If you are really freaked out and negative, you can try and take as many passengers with you as possible, which is in your mind some kind of heroic act.

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Mark Driscoll

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