Jericho Walls

Posted on December 14, 2014

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I wish that humility did not come from humiliation.

Not the kind that makes you feel warm in the face after you just put your foot in your mouth but the kind that strips down all your defenses like the walls of Jericho falling, leaving you exposed and vulnerable.

When I graduated from college I was full of doubts about my mechanical ability. I was rather sure that I should be pursuing something else. Through really great people investing in me and some years of experience, I became confident. I became a supervisor and inspector of other people’s work, entrusted with responsibility.

In essence, my job is to be the last line of defense to protect the airplanes (and passengers!) from the missteps of mechanics as well as the natural entropy of the machines. What happens when the final defense fails? What happens when I mess up?

A bit before Contessa was born I was confronted by a failure of mine that could have cost people their lives.

I failed to sufficiently inspect the fuel system on one our Caravans and missed that a fuel line was not tightened properly resulting in a fuel leak. The details are long and not really the point of this blog. No one was hurt and we were able to rectify the issue satisfactorily.

I was hit pretty hard by the event though. I came away feeling foolish and like I could not do this job, like I should never have been trusted with this responsibility.

Aviation is really interested in safety (I know you are glad to hear that), so when things like this happen it gets investigated. A committee of folks sat down to discuss my mistake, why it happened and what to do about it. These are all people I know and respect, people who I really want to respect me. So even though it is not penal, it can feel that way. I was given a few days off to sort of “re-set” -to emotionally recover and rest. To which my wife says, “Wait, you made a mistake and they reward you with free days off?”  Then she asked if I could make mistakes more often.

It did not feel much like a reward to me. I felt like I had lost all the trust of those who I respected, people who I call friends. I was heart-broken over potentially killing some of them and then losing their trust.

In the aviation safety community they are always telling organizations that people do not make mistakes in a vacuum. There are always contributing circumstances. My pride was such that I did not even allow myself that excuse; I was pretty messed up about it.

I know I have said it before but it came down to where I found my identity. My picture of who I am is so tied up with what I do and so craving of the respect of others that I was broken by the loss of all that— which so wonderfully left me with nothing but Jesus.

He was asking me a question, “Do you trust me?” Which was tied to, “Do you trust the people I have put over you?   as I thought about the people who were making decisions about my future and AIM Air, I knew that they listened to God, that they were worthy of trust. Through that I was able to trust God, to trust the process, and it was a huge weight off of me to let go and trust.

For the record they did not fire me or even demote me. They continue to trust me which in itself is humbling, because I know I don’t deserve it. So I tentatively rejoice in my walls being destroyed because it makes me totally rest in Him.

Please continue to pray for me….this was a close call and thankfully no accident ensued. Pray that God would be keeping these airplanes safe through my hands, as the mechanic, as well as when they are in the hands of the pilots.

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Posted in: Africa, Aviation, John