What if “Sully” Had Been Captain of the Costa Concordia Instead of Captain Francesco Schettino?

Did anyone else think this?  Three years ago the world recognized a hero, Captain Sullenberger, landing a commercial airplane on the Hudson River.  This week the world is drowning in tragedy and shock as the exact opposite continues to emerge from what appears to be foolish and harmful choices by a cruise ship captain.

On January 15, 2009, Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger safely guided all 155 passengers and crew aboard US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency water landing in the city’s frigid Hudson River. The Airbus A320’s twin engines had apparently shut down after sucking in a flock of birds.

On January 13, 2012, the Captain Francesco Schettino made an unauthorized maneuver from the ship’s programmed course — apparently to show off the luxury liner to the island’s residents. The Costa Concordia, having more than 4,200 passengers and crew on board, slammed into the reef off the tiny island of Giglio.

Which captain would you want to be?

I suggest that if Sully had been the Captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, the whole thing would have never happened. People would not be dead, and people would not be missing – if so, Sully would have been one of them.  One can never say.  And this write-up is not as much about two specific men as it is about the choices of two men responsible for the lives of many.

I believe viewing these two events, the choices made before, during, and after the point of conflict, and the results of these incidents provide us with incredible life lessons. I’ve listed a few, but my hope is to only start the conversation that will continue and yield change for God’s glory.

  1. Moments of success, emergency, pain, and tragedy all provide intense pressure that reveals the true contents of each person’s heart (Romans 5:3-5; Romans 8:28-29).
  2. The little choices made today will impact your life and others’ lives down the road (Galatians 6:7).
  3. Getting off course, for whatever reason, has a hidden price tag…Usually one that’s bigger than we can afford (Psalm 1 and Proverbs 1 ).
  4. No one desires the results of an undisciplined, me-first life; yet so many pursue the temporary, shallow fun it provides (Proverbs 1-9 and Ecclesiastes 1-11).
  5. Most everyone desires or dreams of being a hero, but few are willing to make daily choices that position themselves to truly be a hero (Matthew 16:24-28).
  6. There is only one Captain/Leader that can save a person from short-term and eternal catastrophe, pain, and torment – that is Jesus Christ, God’s Son, God in the flesh. John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Who’s Your Captain?

If you were stepping onto a craft with a choice of captain between Sully and Schettino, I am pretty confident which one you would pick today based on the facts. The bigger question, and contrast, is “Who is the Captain of your life?”  Is it God?  Or is it you?   Remember, choices do have consequences.

Andy Woodall
Andy Woodall served as the Pastor of Student Ministries at Faith from 1999-2012.