Role over Rank

Role over Rank

A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” – John Maxwell

If you have ever asked yourself “What difference can I possibly make? I am just a ________. Let’s begin by examining your motives before you look at your position or circumstance.

It has been said if you want to know God’s purpose for your life: find your greatest passion + the needs of the world equals your starting point. While on this journey, it is inevitable there will be those who to try to hurt or weaken your passion. Those individuals that attempt to diminish your self-worth by pointing out your inadequacies are nothing more than critics without cause. They use words such as: eat up, over-driven, crazy, and obsessed to describe what they really see as dedication. It unnerves them & makes them uncomfortable to see someone who truly cares. It causes them realize their poor work ethic and they respond with disparaging comments. It also causes them to look deeply in the mirror and they don’t like what they see. On a deeper level, they don’t like to see others succeed in areas that they had secretly wished they had the determination to do what you are doing today.

Let’s look at two examples of the value of one individual who chose to make a difference:

One man took the time to share the Gospel with a young dairy farmer who later went on to preach the Gospel to millions across the globe. That young farmer is now known as Rev. Billy Graham. In over 55 years of ministry, Billy Graham has preached the Gospel message to more than 215 million people in over 185 countries around the world. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which he founded in 1950, reaches out to millions more each year through radio and television broadcasts, films, literature, training, events, and the Internet. (Billy Graham Library).

One man chose to lead a few ill-equipped, uneducated, and lower class men. He taught them & loved them in spite of great opposition. His passionate journey ultimately cost Him His life. His name is Jesus.
Those few men that He disciples went on to change the world. A church of a few believers has grown too 1/3 of the world’s population. His love lives on today in the hearts of those who believe.

Your current role is very important (wherever you may be) and you are there for a reason. Look for opportunities to encourage, mentor, and teach others while you are learning as well. Your significance is not tied to your salary or your title. Your value is in how you influence others around you as you grow, learn, and change the world one person at a time. One person at a time. Think of it, you may be influencing, educating, or helping the next innovator/leader of our age. Now, take what you have been given and make it count.

Stay safe & God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes


The Fire Service: It All Relies On You!

The Fire Service: It All Relies On You!

In this day and age of the demands of a changing economy the fire service has been greatly affected by these changes. Or has it? We have seen fire stations closed, firefighters laid off, fire & police combined, and other creative ways to stretch the municipal dollar seemingly at the cost of the taxpayers safety. We all want more for our money yet when it comes down to it do we really count the cost of the services that are provided for us?

Do we truly value the concept of our safety until it is threatened? Someone much wiser than me summed it up this way: You cannot have a greater perspective until you have a lesser one. As a firefighter, you will fight a fire differently if you or your family has suffered the loss of a home due to a fire. As a medical professional, your care for a child is intensified if that child happens to be the same age of your daughter at home. We are in the business of serving others but if our heart is not in it we are missing out on a great opportunity.

The concept is simple. It is called empathy. You cannot truly know what someone is going through unless you have been there yourself. If you have a three year old daughter at home, like I do, and a call comes in for a cardiac arrest of a three year old girl your level of compassion, intensity, and drive is off the charts (almost to a dangerous level). How do you channel that same intensity (safely) into each moment to better serve others?

We as firefighters have to realize that the public we serve may be in drastically different circumstances than we are. That one pair of shoes that you throw out the window during overhaul maybe the only pair that person has. That one moment of compassion that you show to a lonely senior citizen in need maybe the one that lifts their spirits out of the dark. The one time you stop to show a child a fire apparatus may lead them into a career in the fire service later in life. The kindness that you show to others in their worst moments will leave a lasting impact.

Some may scoff at the value in small acts of service. I challenge you to look for ways you can encourage others, help others, and to do it with sincerity. You make a difference every day by going to work, but you can do infinitely more by showing that you truly care. Even if you have not been through their particular circumstance you can be a light in their darkness. The Fire Service is about service, so let us be servants to our fellow man in such a way that the impact we make will be measured in changed lives and that my friends is heroic.

Profession: Problem or Passion

Profession: Problem or Passion

As a firefighter we witness some of the most horrific tragedies that can often become permanently etched into our mind. We see the sadness of poverty in homelessness, drug addiction, and abuse in our daily calls for service.

We started our career off with vigor and passion inside of us that said “Stand back, the fire department is here and we are going to change your world!” but after several years of working long hours, frequent calls by our repeat customers, and the medical calls at 3 am for butt pain have calloused our hearts. 

Take a long look in the mirror for a moment and ask yourself: Why do I come to work? Is it merely for the paycheck? Is it for some sense of self assurance? Now think back to your first day on the job as a firefighter. How different were you then? Did you have a different attitude? How has your outlook changed?

One word comes to mind: bitterness. Maybe you haven’t been poisoned by this but if you have I challenge you to read further.  We often fall victim to letting the world and others steal our passion. The constant negativity and reminders of the cruelty of others is enough to cause most of us to throw in the towel. Do you complain more than you problem solve? Have politics and the challenges of leadership sapped your energy to try to do more? Do you dread certain areas that you respond to? Do you feel yourself tense up as you go to work? Do you go through the motions without any meaning behind them? If you answered yes, then you have fallen victim to the poison of bitterness.

Not too long ago, I fell victim to this poison. I even considered leaving the fire department. I would often ask myself “Does my service even matter anymore?”  I went and heard a man speak by the name of Rick Lasky speak on Pride and Ownership. It was as if God told him to speak right to me. I felt renewed and energized but sadly this too faded.  It was not till one day at the altar in my church where I cried out to God that I received my answer. You see I was relying on my own power and my own ability to sustain my calling. I wanted so bad to make a difference that it drove me over the edge when I failed. I felt that I no longer made a difference until I noticed some of my brothers around me struggling.

My friends, I want you to know this: You make a difference every day. Every day that you decide to smile in the face of adversity you will unknowingly lift someone else’s spirit. Every day you choose to serve the impoverished, the addict, the homeless with compassion and love you make a difference. Every day you choose to do the hard work of being honest instead of taking the easy way out you have sown a seed in another’s heart of what integrity truly means. Every day that you work out instead of lying on the couch and complaining you set the example. Every day that you read, train, and mentor others you make an impact on their future for the moment or for their lifetime. Every day that you bow your head and pray you show others that your allegiance goes to a higher calling than any badge can bestow. Every day that you take the time to listen to your brother who is struggling you show what it truly means to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2a). Every day that you refuse to fall victim to bitterness you will lead without even knowing.

Do not underestimate the power of your influence, your encouragement, and your compassion for others. When the world tells you that you can’t make a difference pick up a Bible and read. Read about all the men and women who faced insurmountable circumstances but God showed his mighty power through them. Read about Paul (a mentor), Barnabus (an encourager), and Timothy (a disciple). Surround yourself with individuals like these. Read about Jesus and how he loved in spite of circumstances and how he led in the face of adversity. Read about how he prayed with great anguish when he was dismayed. Read and see how He had compassion on the sick, the imprisoned, the homeless, the widow, and the orphan. Read about how He did all of this not for the world’s recognition but out of God’s great love for you.

If you want to make a difference, if you want to renew your passion, if you want to truly help others; welcome back to your calling. Call upon God and He will equip you with His Holy Spirit. He will give you the strength that you desire. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  And let your profession be your pulpit as “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:14)

Stay safe & God Bless

Andy J. Starnes

You train to save others, Who will save You?

Who will save you?

There will come a time in your life when you realize that all that you are, all that you have, and all that you have done is meaningless without Christ. It is at the point where you notice a pattern of reaching goals, acquiring possessions, working for recognition, and it hits you that each time you reach the pinnacle you are faced with another mountain to climb. All that you have grasped and worked for has yet to fulfill this longing in your heart. You begin to understand that there is a void that no material possession, no drink or drug, and no one individual can fill. This void in your heart is a cross shaped scar that can only be healed by the redeeming blood of Jesus.

Yet in our prideful stubbornness, we quietly and fearfully dismiss this inner longing, and put it out of our focus. The devil and this world are a constant threat to one focusing on their Godly relationship. The trials, tribulations, and day to day monotony of our lives can either be a distraction or a reminder of your need for God.

How are we to keep ourselves untainted by the sins of ourselves and this world yet be immersed in it? How are we to seek relationship with God through Jesus when our family, our work, and our friends tell us to take the easy road? I used to view the fire department as a spiritual detriment but now I view each day that I work as a firefighter as a “spiritual opportunity”.

We are so focused on training and our duty to the public that we often miss the greatest opportunity to make a difference that lies right in front of us. We have the duty & privilege to share God’s good news with ourselves and our brothers in the fire station.

Romans 5:8 says “God demonstrated His great love in this: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” As a firefighter you took an oath to lay down your life, if necessary, to save someone else’s. You will not know the day, the hour, or the person if this time ever comes. You can only train yourself: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually to prepare yourself to save another’s life. Think of this concept, God sent His son to die for you and me before we ever recognized our sinfulness or our need for Him. When someone calls 911 they are crying out to you for your help. Out of your great love for your fellow man you respond willing to risk your life for someone you may have never met.

God provided for us before we ever called for His help. “Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24) It was his plan to redeem us from the very beginning. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His son to condemn the world but to save it.” (John 3:16-17) My friends, we are all born with a need for God, and it is only through Jesus that this can be fulfilled. Let Jesus rescue you today. Place your hope in Him and your future is secured. Just call His name and He will be there.

Stay safe & God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes