Being Really Useful

by Ray Reuter on July 25, 2013

Calvin & ThomasThey’re two they’re four they’re six they’re eight
Shunting trucks and hauling freight
red and green and brown and blue
they’re the really useful crew …

Many of you will not recognize those lyrics. Sadly, I cannot get them out of my head — one of those “It’s a Small World” kind of tunes. These lyrics are from the theme song to “Thomas the Train” of which I watched countless episodes when two of our dear grandkids (that’s a pic of Calvin with the trains) stayed with us for five days recently. (I forgot how much control a 21-month and 10-month old can wield!)

The storyline for virtually every episode of Thomas & Friends is the same …

  • A train has a burning desire to be a “really useful engine.”
  • In their excitement and focus on being “useful” they fail to listen or follow instructions. Their excitement translates into overconfidence and often arrogance.
  • This generally leads to believing their plan is the best — that they know best. Any outside advice is ignored.
  • With a sole focus on themselves, their good intentions are “derailed” and disaster is the result. Lots of people and trains are “cross” with each other.
  • Suddenly — “Cinders and ashes!” is often exclaimed — they are humbled and realize their blunder and go about setting things straight.
  • The “save-the-day, happy ending” typically emphasizes the learning and awareness that the pursuit of being useful is not about ourselves, but about focusing on others. An unfettering kind of thing.

The definition of “useful” is … being of use or service; serving some purpose; advantageous, helpful, or of good effect: a useful member of society.

“Bust my boilers!” How often do I focus on being a really useful husband, father, coach, trainer, leader and fail to listen — thinking I know best. Episodes of my life follow the script above. How prideful — believing I can be useful by focusing on me. I forget … “Anyone who want to be first, must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) On the Island of Sodor (where Thomas and his buddy trains live) — and in my life — this translates to … “If I want to be really useful, I must be really humble … and serve others first.”

Interesting how many episodes and reruns it takes to put that message into practice each day.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: