Day one FDIC Rekindling the fire: The Lone Ember
The story goes that a man was struggling with grief and depression and no one seemed able to encourage him. A pastor visited the man one day and saw him seated by glowing fire. The fire was warm but failed to dry the constant flow of the man’s tears.
The Pastor, sensing God’s direction, didn’t speak a word and pulled a chair up beside the silent despairing man. He looked deep into his eyes and then reached for the fireplace ‘irons’. He stirred the coals and the fire grew hotter. Then the Pastor did something profoundly important. He slid a lone ember to the side, away from the fire, but still within the fireplace.
The ember gradually faded from a bright passionate glow to a cold and lifeless gray. The Pastor looked once again into the man’s eyes. Silent but paying strict attention the man watched as the Pastor slid the cold and lifeless ember back into the fire.
The once cold and lifeless ember ‘reignited’ almost instantly and began to glow even brighter than before! The man’s tears now pouring down his face looked into the Pastor’s eyes and finally spoke:
“Thank you Pastor for the fiery sermon. I know what I must do.”
In the fire service, many of us fall victim to burn out. We were once that bright burning ember, alive and passionate, but then something happened and we began to grow cold. What happened? What changed us and our drive to pursue it?
It is the age old statement that was discussed recently on Firefighting Today on Pete Lamb’s show:
Morale: the great force multiplier.
Why is it that we let others take away our passion? Why is it that we let circumstances dictate our level of dedication? Should not the strength of our beliefs be based on something more than the opinions of others?
The heartbeat of the fire service is morale; which is controlled, influenced, and handled by each of us. The only thing in this world that we all can control is our attitude. It is much easier said than done. I am here to tell you that another way exists: A way that is often forgotten because of our pride.
Just as the lone despairing man had removed himself from the warmth of the fellowship so have many of us isolated ourselves from those that could encourage us. I have fallen victim to this trap. I am on a ‘spiritual retreat’ of sorts for my passion in the fire service here at FDIC. Here surrounded by many passionate brothers and sisters I see the same look in their eyes: Passion!
They want to be here. They need to be here and they are looking forward to rekindling the spirit of others and thereby rekindling the fire within themselves. It is the greatest and most profound characteristic of the fire service: Brotherhood!
My friends our morale is controlled by our own choices and we can let others, circumstances, and our environment drain our passion or we can seek out ‘like-minded’ brothers and sisters to encourage us, recharge us, and thereby giving us the fuel to go and inspire others.
Take the time to understand that this noble calling known as firefighting is meant to be enjoyed, cherished, and shared. Choose to surround yourself with other bright and burning embers of brotherhood and their collective energy will inspire, encourage, and motivate you!
It has done so for me and I pray that you do the same.
Andy J. Starnes