President's Message - Who's Packing Your Parachute?

Karen_Presidents_Message.jpgAs we start the New Year, we will all need some help to navigate the realities in our lives. We need people who are ready to assist - people who will serve, teach, encourage, give, lead and show kindness - and in turn, we will need to do these things for others. One of the best metaphors I've heard for such people comes from Charlie Plumb, a public speaker and retired naval officer. His story is very inspiring.

After Plumb graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, he flew jets in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, he was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. He ejected and parachuted into the jungle. The Vietcong captured him and held him prisoner for six years in North Vietnam. Today, Plumb lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

He shares the story of a day when he and his wife were sitting in a restaurant and a man at another table approached them.

parachute"You're Charlie Plumb!" the man said. "You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"

"How in the world did you know that?" asked the former pilot.

"I packed your parachute!" he said. Plumb gasped in surprise. The man pumped his hand and continued, "I guess it worked!"

Plumb assured him that it did saying, "If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."

Charlie Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about the stranger. He wondered how many times he might have seen him on the ship and not spoken to him because, after all, he was a fighter pilot and the man who packed his chute was "just a sailor." He thought of the many hours this sailor had spent working at a long wooden table in the bowels of the carrier, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute - each time, holding in his hands the fate of someone he didn't know.

When Plumb lectures, he often asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute? Who is watching out for you? Can you identify the people who have packed your parachute over the years and those who are packing it today?"

On a personal note, I am reminded of the countless times that my husband, who is now retired, takes care of the many household necessities that allow me to do the work that I love at FaithLife Financial. I think of a mentor who early in my professional development steered me into university so that I could develop potential that I did not see at the time.

Then, I reflect on all of the ways that our FaithLife Financial Representatives work with our Members to ensure that their parachute for the future is packed with the right life insurance policies to meet their needs, the best investment products, a sound retirement plan and the knowledge necessary to leave a lasting legacy. Plus, a fraternal outreach program that allows Members to feel good about their contributions to build a better world in their churches and in their communities. All of the above is what FaithLife Financial has existed to provide over the past 42 years.

There are many people who help us land a little more safely into the positions that God has given us. Some are parents, pastors and financial advisors. Yet other friends and family members have been instrumental when we needed help - some providing keys toward building a sound work ethic and some who have put us in touch with deep, spiritual values. These people have influenced our lives more than they could ever know. So who is packing your parachute? And just as important, whose parachute are you packing? Who looks up to you? Who may depend on you for encouragement, understanding, or guidance?

To those who have packed my parachute over many years, I am indebted.

For those who are still packing it today, I give thanks.

And to those whose parachutes I am packing in 2015 and beyond, I promise to do my best.

Karen Bjerland
President and CEO