The Portable Radio Analogy: A one sided conversation

The Portable Radio Analogy: A One sided conversation.

Have you ever listened to radio traffic at an incident and thought to yourself “How is anyone ever supposed to respond when the IC won’t stop talking?”

If someone was to transmit a MAY-DAY how would the Incident Commander even know?

I have struggled in my prayer life more than any other area of my Christian walk. I have been guilty of never letting go of the microphone. My prayers have been a way of merely reporting to God what He already knew.

If Prayer is communication with God them shouldn’t we allow Him a moment to respond?

The problem that most of us have is this:

We think we are the Incident Commander and we think we should be doing most of the talking. In reality, we are the firefighters and we should be listening to the Ultimate Incident Commander for direction and guidance.

In our lives we should all “take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James) and understand that in order to hear someone speak we must not be talking.

Pray and learn to let go of the microphone as we all wait for His response. “Before they call, I will answer. While they are yet speaking I will hear” Isaiah 65:24

God will answer but are we listening? “Be still” and listen as He speaks to your heart.


Firefighters The First R.I.C. Where it all began..,

#Firefighters The First R.I.C.
Where it all began..,

There were no badges or symbols on their chest. They were knights engaged in battle when suddenly their brothers were up against a new enemy:


Against all odds and facing certain death, they rescued their fellow knights. They knew the risk, they were trained, and they wore their armor.

For their bravery, they were awarded the Maltese Cross. They were considered the first firefighters.

Their are records of fire brigades as far back as 115 B.C. But the title of firefighter didn’t appear until this moment.

They were more than employees. They took an oath not a job. They fulfilled a calling not a line on a payroll folder. They left a mark on history not just a brief memory.

They gave of themselves for the sake of others. They had no other ambition but to save them. They had no thought of reward nor recognition.

This is the why they were given the title of “firefighter” because even though the position had existed prior to them, no one had earned the name which we proudly carry on today.

As we mourn the loss of two of our own firefighters who died yesterday, pause for a moment and ask yourself:

Do I truly understand the responsibilities that I am tasked with?

If so, you have realized your calling. You will not be pinned down by complacency not hide from responsibility behind a policy. You will be the one making a difference every day because deep in your heart this is what you were meant to do.

Welcome back to your calling..

#Firefighter Life Role #Leadership : Your life impacts the future of others.

#Firefighter Life Role #Leadership : Your life impacts the future of others.

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is a sin.” (James 4:17).

In the fire service, we have all witnessed examples of leadership: good and bad. As a young firefighter, your character, habits, and future perspective were all shaped by those around you.

Take a moment and remember an experience where you witnessed a role model fail to do the right thing.
In that moment, how did you feel?

What impression did it leave you with?

How has that experience affected your views on leadership?

Wherever you are, whatever role you may be in, there are those that look up to you and watch everything that you do. Whether you realize or not your role in life is in effect leading others by your actions, words, and beliefs.

I have heard it said:
“There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the life of a Christian. Most people will never read the first four.”

We are all ultimately responsible for the future of the fire service. We are accountable for those nearest to us in our sphere of influence. If we are not directly influencing those around us, those within our fellowship, we are failing to act and failing to lead. We are, in a sense, being morally negligent in our duties to others.

As leaders in the fire service we must hold ourselves accountable. We must walk in integrity, disciple/mentor, and train others up in the way they should go. If you profess to be a Christian and are in leadership you have found yourself in a position of double accountability.

Our words must match our lives because not only have you professed a belief that preaches it you are now teaching others.

If we choose to paint a false picture of ourselves to others we are setting them up for disappointment. As a leader in the fire service you are accountable for the lives of those in your sphere of influence: their well being, their ability to do their job, and for their future.

As a leader more is caught than taught. Those that are in your sphere of influence are watching your daily actions or lack thereof.

Why is this important?

Any confident leader who doesn’t have a solid moral foundation will ultimately fail the organization personally and or professionally.

Anyone can learn to be competent in their profession but to be exemplary is to be the one standing up for truth, caring for others, and leading by example (at home and at work).

The greatest understanding that you can comprehend about becoming a leader is that YOU are responsible for the future of others. How are you investing in that future right now?

The future of the fire service depends on your current Life Role Leadership? Who are you modeling your life after?

“The act of Leadership is the basic part of the Christian life (Ken Blanchard)”.

A firefighter by definition is a civil-servant; ask yourself this:

Is your service reflecting positively or negatively upon the future of the fire service?

The seeds you sow now will reap dividends in the future. We would all do well to perform a leadership values review with a trusted mentor to hold ourselves accountable. Look in the mirror and remember that you have a direct impact upon the next generation of the fire service.

What image is your life reflecting? Are you investing in others?
The future is up to you…

#Firefighters Are you dealing with discouragement?

#Firefighters Are You Dealing with Discouragement?

The roles & responsibilities of a firefighter aren’t easy. The ever increasing demands on our knowledge, skills, and abilities causes one to feel as if you most know everything, be prepared for anything, and can never take a breath.

One who is passionate, dedicated, and has a love for the calling of a firefighter can become weary when the following occurs:

All of your efforts are not appreciated and mediocrity is rewarded.

Your family situation suffers.

And the organization that you call the greatest job in the world makes you feel worthless.

How does one reignite the fire that once burned in their soul?

How does one reconcile their sacrifice and dedication with worlds constant lack of appreciation?

The answer is simple but the application is beyond difficult.

Our hope, Our joy, and Our significance cannot be based on the appreciation or lack there of from others.

The world will always disappoint you, betray your trust, and change the meaning of truth.

You are not meant to look like the rest of the world!

The calling of a firefighter has to be based on an inner desire that cannot be dictated by circumstances. Otherwise you will become a “fair weather firefighter”; which means you will only be happy when things are going well.

In a profession where we deal with tragedy, loss, and death on a regular basis; one has to understand that being so close to such pain will have an effect on you.

My friends, there is one who will not abandon you, disappoint you, nor betray you. It is God. If your calling is sincere, and your heart is to endure, then you need the full armor of God.

This peace that comes Jesus is one that allows you to stay motivated, encouraged, and inspired despite the negativity that surrounds you.

If you don’t know Christ, I pray that you will ask Him into your heart today and the “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians) will guard your hearts in Christ Jesus.

With Christ in your heart, His Armor clad around you, and His Spirit speaking through you there is nothing that will cause you to fall away.

God Bless & stay encouraged!


Leaders- Have you ever struggled with someone?

Struggling with “The One”:

Have you ever struggled with someone? Change happens slow…

Have you ever given of yourself, prayed earnestly, encouraged them and sacrificed for their benefit but they seemed to ignore or disregard all of your efforts?

How did this make you feel?

Disrespected? Hurt? Bitter?

Did you give up on them?

Stop for a moment and think back to a time in your own life when you were headed down the wrong path.

Did anyone try to stop you?

Did anyone give you good advice?

Did you listen?

All of the leadership books, psychological methods, and biblical concepts cannot overcome an individual who chooses not to embrace the right path. God gave us all the gift of free will. You can hope that the example you set, the prayers you offer, and the continual encouragement you give daily will someday pay off. But ultimately it is up to them to decide.

Their lack of acceptance should not deter your dedication but it can make the soul weary at times. How do you refresh your soul?

We all at some point in our lives have failed to heed the voice of wisdom.

Do you remember when their advice began to sink in?

Do you remember when your life changing moment was?

Most of us tend to only seek “wisdom and understanding” only after we have experienced personal brokenness, failure, and or tragedy. Yet those around us loved us through our “wayward journey” and never gave up on us. At some times, I am sure they were ready to but someone gave them hope during those dark moments.

In the Bible, many of God’s chosen people did not live to see the blessings of their efforts that God chose them to do. Their lifetime of obedience, discipline, and long-suffering paid off not in their lifetime but in the generations to come. They are the ones we read about now and model ourselves after. They faced great opposition, persecution, and many of those they cared about chose the wrong path. Yet, they soldiered on with the hope that is within them.

If you have chosen to be a leader, to make a difference, and to influence others for the future; remember that change happens slow. Just because you are not seeing it now doesn’t mean that your efforts are in vain.

Psalm 42: 5 was written by one of the greatest leaders in the Bible. Notice his tone:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God

We will face difficulty, We will face opposition, and despite our efforts we will face those who will refuse our compassionate care. This does not mean we are to give up. We are to endure and learn from these moments.

Let us put our hope in the one who will never disappoint us and remember that we must stay the course. For we are called to endure and lead others in our example. Be honest with God in your prayers, He knows your heart and your soul will only be healed by the one who made it.

Surround yourself with passionate, dedicated, and experienced counsel to vent your frustrations to, to receive comfort, and most of all to receive encouragement.

God Bless & keep moving forward,

Andrew Starnes

#Firefighters What’s more important? Role or Rank?

What’s more important your role or your 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 to 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.

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

They didn’t listen and neither did I!

They didn’t listen, and neither did I!

Have you ever reached what I call the “pinnacle of frustration” with those in your life that you hold dear?  Have you felt tired, weighed down, and burned out from their constant lack of understanding of their circumstances?  In some instances, you may have invested years of encouragement, counseling, financial resources, and numerous hours of service on your part in an attempt to ‘help’ them.  They seem destined to run towards disaster and as they near it they seem to pick up speed. It is as if they want to suffer. Your mind has grown weary with the same old story that you hear from them on a daily basis that they refuse to do anything about. It is as if they choose to be quite content in their misery and do not want anyone to do anything but merely listen to their insanity.

In the midst of their pain, you have fallen down on your knees pleading before God for an answer.  You feel that God has ignored your prayers and you are forced to watch those care about be destroyed by their own choosing. But wait… did you catch that? Destroyed by their own choosing?

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and earth, He created the perfect place called Eden with Adam & Eve. He gave them everything they ever needed, wanted, or could desire. He only asked them to follow one rule and yet they broke it.  He knew that if they ate of the tree of knowledge they would become ‘aware’ of information to powerful for them to comprehend and apply correctly. But they didn’t listen.  The Bible is full of stories of God’s chosen people being rescued, prayers answered, miracles performed and yet they fall back into their old habits of doubt.  Why is this?

St. Augustine, who is known as a great sinner who became a great Saint, lived a pagan lifestyle and followed his hearts desires of lust and disobedience. His mother agonized over his choices and prayed fervently on his behalf for nine years. In the midst of this suffering, she pleaded with a priest to go and correct her son.  But the priest refused, and his answer has a deep application for us today. He told St. Augustine’s mother  “I will not speak with because He will not listen. He isn’t ready yet.”  She began to walk away in tears when the priest stopped her and said “But God will not despise a mother’s tears.”

I think back upon the times that my parents, friends, and colleagues fervently tried to advise me against certain choices that I was going to make. They passionately poured out their reasons in a loving attempt to try to save me from myself. Yet despite all of their work, I went foolishly forward and fell flat on my face. Was this any fault of their own? Absolutely not! It was my poor decisions that led to my personal disasters in life.

The Application: Loving others through their journey

The wisdom in later years of life is often gained through years of tribulation, mistakes, and costly failures.  Individuals who have suffered greatly and have learned from their trials are those we should be the most attentive to. Why is it that we ignore the counsel of the wise?

Our perspective is often too narrow.  If I stand right next to a car that I want to buy I can only see certain parts of the car at a time. From further away, I stand and look at the car and notice it is tilted severely to one side (indicating some type of damage).  As a young man, I would stand too close to the object of my desire. All I could see was how close I was to the fulfillment of my immediate want. I could not nor would not stand back far enough to see any potential dangers, problems, or future repercussions that would occur. My perspective was too narrow and my desire would override any wise counsel that was offered to me.

“Just as perceptions of the situation change with experience, so do the number and degree of factors that must be considered to change as the member’s responsibilities increase.” (Chief John Norman)

It has been said that adrenaline and tunnel vision is our greatest enemy on the fire ground. It destroys or inhibits our situational awareness. As a hard-charging young rookie firefighter, they often jump from the rig before it stops and are standing at the front door of a burning home with the door forced open before the Company Officer has made it around the rig.

In life, if we fail to recognize our own or others ‘limited perspective’ we will find ourselves beating our heads up against a wall. As we repeat the same words of advice and counsel and as they continue to nod their head but fail to comprehend the value in our words; we can grow weary of doing good.

It is at this point, where we have come to a realization. We may be able to save others, extinguish infernos, and perform acts of heroism yet we may fail from saving those closest to us from making poor choices in life.  It is then we realize the chink in our armor. We have elevated ourselves and forgotten who is truly in control.  

“He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent” Saint Augustine

God gave each and every one of us the gift of free will. He wants us all to love and obey Him because we choose too not because we have to. As His children, we are to come along side of our brothers and sisters and counsel them but if they refuse your care don’t give up.

A firefighter who stands before a door of a burning home doesn’t stop trying to force the door until they make entry by some means. And as in a fire, sometimes we make a save and sometimes we do not. But we don’t stop trying because of failure. As your loved ones make poor choices, do not give up on them!  T.D. Jakes says it best “Just because you graduated, doesn’t mean that you get to burn down the school.”  Someone loved you through your foolish, ill-advised, and poor choices in life. I know that the reason I am here today is because of a loving God and two loving parents who refused to give up on me despite my poor choices in life.

Keep pounding upon the doors of heaven with your prayers. Keep lifting them up and encouraging them. Keep going to the word of God for encouragement for your ‘weary soul’ and let Him give you rest. Tell Him how you feel and know that He is with you always. He doesn’t ignore your prayers.  His word says “A broken and contrite heart He will not despise.”  It is not always within our power to save others but we have been granted the power and responsibility to carry their burdens to The Lord in prayer. It is through this process our prayers become more passionate, the depth of our relationship becomes more genuine, and our hearts become enlarged with a glimpse of the love that God has for us. Don’t give up on those you care for! For some of us, we realize later that our survival has been greatly dependent upon their prayers.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes