Fire Service Leadership: What’s your motivation

Leadership: What’s your motivation?

It is apparent that leadership is a hot topic in the fire service today. One quick search on the internet reveals that leadership is something that is written about, lectured on, and taught on many different levels across our nation. Why do you think that leadership is such a “hot topic”? Leadership has been wrapped up in a neatly packaged wrapper and marketed in a very poor manner. The motivations behind leadership today are superficial in most places. How do we seek a deeper understanding of how we can lead others? In this series we will address a definition of leadership that will set your apart.

“What a waste to try to change their behavior without truly understanding the driving needs that cause such a behavior! Yet millions of people spend a lifetime searching for love, acceptance, and success without understanding the need that compels them.” (The Search for Significance pg 11)

Leadership is establishing a direction and influencing others to follow that direction. By definition, Leadership is an influence process. So in order for us to lead we must first understand what drives us to do so. What is your motivation to be a leader? Is it for recognition or monetary reasons? Is your ego pushing your to lead or is it out of your devotion to your family or some deeper calling? Rick Lasky’s “so you want to be firefighter” is a profound example of how we should check our motives and take a deeper look at ourselves before we pursue this goal of being a leader.

Leadership in the fire service, in my opinion, is a servant based leadership. You lead by example. Your consistent application of your values, work ethic, and your dedication to your crew is what sets you apart. This goes deeper than education. Intellect and education is an important part of being a leader but your team will not commit to you unless they know that you care. Have you ever noticed that some of the best leaders were the ones that people seemed to naturally gather around? What attracts people to follow someone?  “Good leaders know how to bring the best out of people. They are encouragers and motivators. They see the target ahead and pursue it.” (Charles Specht). These individuals are genuine, sincere, and have integrity. They are not afraid to admit their mistakes and most importantly they haven’t forgotten where they came from.

The most effective & important leaders in the Bible had little awareness of the impact their lives had on others. They were too busy obeying God to keep track of their successes. Why were they effective? Their focus was not on themselves! They were focused on the bigger picture: God’s plan for his people. These leaders were humble and obedient to God’s plan so they could lead others. Do you base your leadership skills by the certificates on your wall or in the profound desire to positively change others in your sphere of influence? When you leave this earth you will not be able to take any trophies or diplomas with you. However, you will be judged by the impact you had on others and whether or not you cared enough to make a difference. This is accountability on the highest level.

Self-less or Selfish?

Are you someone who motivates others? Do you look for ways to bring out the best in people? Are you encouraging more than critical? These statements are wrapped around one central word “motive”.  Leaders who have defined history (in a positive way) are self-less. They are focused on others, their needs, and they see the good in others. A leader with pure motives can see the good in each person and collectively applies those resources in such a way that produces positive outcomes while building up their confidence & camaraderie.  This comes from a selfless ambition that begins with a pure heart.

How do you become a leader?

Take a moment and look at your life. Who are you? What defines you? If your job or title was taken away would you still be significant? Does your salary define your significance or do you measure significance by the lives you touch?

My friends God has made you unique. He has a special purpose for each one of his children. If you believe that you cannot make a difference or that you don’t have what it takes then you have not trusted completely in Him. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding-Proverbs 3:5”.  God has left us His word that lists example after example of inadequate, ill-equipped, and fearful individuals who produced miraculous & extraordinary results through God’s power.  The Bible lists name after name of those who trusted in God and did great things.  For example: Moses was not a good speaker yet God worked through him to speak to the most powerful man in history at that time to free the Israelites.  David was the smallest of his brothers but was a “man after God’s own heart”. He became one of the greatest kings who ever lived. Paul was the greatest persecutor of the Christian faith and became the greatest evangelist for the Christian faith. Paul also is responsible for writing most of the New Testament.

Why you?

“God has shaped you to serve through your experiences, educations, gifts, personality, passions and relationships. God has people and situations that you are divinely prepared to touch.” (Dave Earley)

The process of becoming a leader started when you were born. Every moment of your life has uniquely prepared you for the circumstances of your future. Your testimony, trials, and tribulations are not just painful memories but “hard life lessons” that have made you stronger. There is no testimony without a test. These lessons will enable you to lift up others around you that are struggling. These difficult experiences, if you will draw from them rather than let them destroy you, can be the reason you are calmer, stronger, and decisive in the face of adversity.

Where is your heart?

“The man or woman who lives only for the love & attention of others is never satisfied, at least not for long. Despite our efforts we will never find lasting fulfilling peace if we must continually prove ourselves to others.  Does your sense of self worth depend upon your status, your title, or your spouse? This void is only meant to be filled by God? Your search for significance should both begin and end with God’s word” (The Search for Significance)

The world we live in seems desperate for constant approval. We are more concerned about the political correctness of society than following our morals and values that are God given. We spend a vast amount of money & resources to impress people that we don’t even know. We dress in fine clothes, live in the largest houses (compared to the rest of the world), and have more material possessions than anyone else in the world.

Yet we are the most depressed, obese, and anxious society in the world. If we have everything than shouldn’t’ that mean we should be happy? Why is it that our hearts seem to be constantly searching for meaning and fulfillment only to be disappointed yet again by another person, another material possession, or another achievement? Each one seems to leave us emptier than the previous attempt.

Your heart was designed for a purpose.  The fulfillment of your heart and peace that you seek will never be found in a person, place, or thing. All of which will eventually disappoint you.  This void is only meant to be filled by God.  It is cross shaped scar that can only be healed by Jesus. Once your heart is opened to His love your world begins to change. Problems don’t go away but “a peace that passes understanding” fills your heart during life’s storms.  You become a “new creation in Christ Jesus” and this is all due to God’s great love for you that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us-Romans 5:8”.  You will “do all things through Christ who gives you strength” (Philippians 4:13)

Leaders who possess the peace of God in their heart will influence others in profound ways. Their motivations are self-less, they want others to succeed, and they will sacrifice and go to great lengths to achieve goals for others. This seems to go against the belief of society today. If you truly want to lead, you truly want to make a difference, and then I challenge you to do the greatest thing you could ever do: Humble yourself before the Lord and ask God to send you today. Be ready to make difference in others lives.  God is saying to you today : “Be strong & courageous for I am with you”

Lead from a heart motivated by Christ,

God Bless & Stay Safe,

Andy J. Starnes


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