It certainly was a tough week to be a Metrolink driver in Los Angeles. First came the report of the two trains that collided head-on. Reports indicate that the engineer of the commuter train ran a stop signal because he was texting on his cell-phone rather than driving the train. As a result, the train ran headlong into a freight train, resulting in the deaths of at least 25 people. Less than a week later, an out-of-service bus driven by a mechanic collided with a light rail train near downtown Los Angeles during the morning rush, injuring 15 people.
As I thought about these accidents, I began to consider the parallels between the responsibility of a train engineer and leader in a local church, whether they are paid staff or a volunteer leader.
- Both are entrusted with the safety and security of their passengers. An engineer focuses on the physical safety of their passengers, while a pastor or elder in a church seeks to protect their people from false teachers (Acts 20:28-30).
- Both are responsible to transport their charges from point A to point B. While a train engineer may transport passengers to a geographic destination, a church leader helps move people towards spiritual maturity (Colossians 1:28-29).
- Both an engineer and a pastor/elder need to stay focused on their primary task rather than be distracted with secondary issues. As recent events have made clear, an engineer’s task is driving the train not sending text messages. The task of a pastor/elder is to serve as a shepherd of the flock of people that God has entrusted to their care (1 Peter 5:2-3).
- Both an engineer and a pastor/elder are held accountable for how well they do their job and protect their passengers (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:4).