How to change the fire service-One word at a time

How to change the fire service-One word at a time

How to change the fire service-One word at a time:

There are few professions that ask as much of an individual as the fire service. There are few places where one’s passion can be displayed through servant hood. However, in the faces of all that serve our reflections are often false representations of the commitment we have made. It is not in our service to our fellow citizens that we have failed but in our words with one another. 

In moments of difficulty, we have shown a tendency to turn on one another. In the words of one of my mentors Chief Peter Lamb:

“We, as passengers on an airplane, are the only one who thinks its a good idea to take out the pilot.”

And “If we claim to have fellowship with Him & yet walk in the darkness, we lie & do not live out the truth.” 1 John 1:6

Let us remember the commitment we made to our families, our communities, and one another. Let us consider the value of our words and their impact:

Are we truly watchful over our words? 

Do we truly realize how much impact they have?

Do we really know how bad we may sound? 

Would we be proud if our words were printed on the front page of a newspaper? 

The power of our words are often underestimated. Words can build up or they can destroy. Each word we speak in pivotal moments are either bitter bricks thrown carelessly or they are bricks to build the future houses of leadership.

So let us ask ourselves are we building up others or tearing down the future with our words? 

Perhaps, if we could see a glimpse into the future and see all the damage our negative words produce; might we all be ‘slow to speak and quick to listen.’ 

May we remember:

Anyone can point out what is wrong but it takes leadership to encourage another with words that lead them away from their poor choices. 

Anyone can find a “problem for every solution.” 

Anyone can criticize above from below; until they have felt the weight of their burden.

Let us work just as hard to speak the words that resolve rather than those that cause conflict.

May God grant each of us the words that others are needing to hear. 

May He allow us to be a part of building the future through wise words instead of careless ones. Let us choose our words carefully as they have the power to change the future.

So pick up the microphone, speak words of inspiration, and provide powerful leadership guidance in a world desperate for encouragement. For the future pages of the fire service are being written by our words.

What legacy do we choose to leave? One of encouragement? Or one of condemnation?

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

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The Gavel & The Cross-Which do we carry?

The Gavel & The Cross-Which do we carry?

The Gavel & The Cross: Which do we carry?

In the world we live in today, we are inundated with information from the news, social media, and constant alerts on our electronic devices. 

And many of us claim to be followers of Christ yet we often fail to consistently live out the claims of our faith in front of others who are watching carefully.

Those who understand what a relationship with Jesus is about understand that we all fall short and without His Grace we wouldn’t be saved. 

We understand that it is not our works that saves us but it is our faith in Jesus Christ. 

But does that mean we can live without accountability, without obeying the law, and that we can justify any action we commit because of Jesus? 

This is a grave error that causes more of those who are seeking a relationship with Christ to turn away from the faith not because of Jesus but because of our actions. Paul reminds us not abuse our freedom that we have received in Christ as an opportunity to do wrong:

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 

For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:13-15)

And with the constant scrutiny of the media today we see that anytime a person claiming to be a Christian commits a crime, commits a heinous act, or is caught on camera behaving badly the world immediately tries and convicts them in the courts of social justice. This brings us to two important statements to consider when these tragic moments occur:

• Never judge a belief system or a philosophy by those who choose to abuse it:

If this was the case, we would quit going to the gym because there are out of shape people there. We would quit trying to have good marriages because the divorce rate is so high. We would stop striving to be the best firefighters we can be because there are complacent firefighters all around us. We would quit trying to do good works because so many are choosing to lie, cheat, and steal yet they continue to get away with it.

• Judging Others: 

In these moments the most often verse that is quoted by non-believers is this: (Matthew 7: 7-1-5) “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” 

Jesus words ring true and we should understand the power of personal judgement. We are not to judge non-believers for their lives because they do not have a relationship with Jesus yet. However, once someone comes to believe in Christ, it is the responsibility of the church and fellow believers to hold that person accountable, admonish them when they are wrong, and bring them back to the correct path gently and lovingly. 

This means if we call ourselves followers of Christ than those in our circle have the right to judge us and hold us accountable. This can be uncomfortable yet is necessary to have a strong network of Christian accountability.

A popular song on the radio says it well “many think I am going around with a gavel in my hand” yet if we are living out our faith and carrying our cross we understand that our judgement has already occurred, our debt has already been paid, and our sins are forgiven. 

Our lives should be lived out of great gratitude towards the great love God demonstrated “in this, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We should look upon the lost, those that don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, not with pious condemnation but with compassion as Christ did. 

Mark 6: 34: “So as He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He began to teach them many things.”

And when our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ begin to stray or fall victim to false teaching we should go to them directly, lovingly, and talk to them about our concern for them. 

We should not beat them over the head with our gavel we should come to them with love, compassion, and share what Christ did for us ALL on the cross. 

We should do as Christ did and spend time with them and pray that God will change their heart. For if we use scripture to win an argument out of spite then we have turned the word into a hatchet to chop off their head. 

But if we come to them in compassion and tell them the truth we have done what is necessary. In the end we are called to live the life that God has called us to, share His love, and refute false teaching even if it costs us dearly. 

Sadly, many will not listen and turn away but we should leave the door open, continue to pray, and hold fast to the word of God never compromising His truth or our integrity but never giving up on those we love either.

Let us carry our cross and let the true judge of mankind hold the gavel,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

The Loneliness of Leadership

The Loneliness of Leadership

The Loneliness of Leadership:

Statistically, there are fewer leaders today due to many reasons but what those who choose not to lead often fail to realize is this:

Those who step up and lead are not perfect.

Those who choose the lead are not better than anyone else nor think more of themselves; in fact they often struggle with insecurity and doubt more than you know.

Those who lead are often maligned, slandered, and opposed by those who would rather criticize than do the hard work of resolving long standing issues that leaders tackle head on.

Those who choose to lead suffer from depression as they often wonder if there efforts are worth it. Many leaders fail to see the fruit of their labor in their own lifetime yet they keep working.

Those who choose the lead care more about others and their calling than they do about themselves. And they often suffer divorce and relational conflict because the majority cannot understand why they sacrifice so much to receive so little.

Those who choose to lead are often the first to suffer from political, personal, and spiritual attacks because the devil doesn’t come after the complacent.

Those who choose to care enough to fulfill the calling on their own heart have smaller bank accounts but have dividends paid to them by the lives they impact.

Those who step in front of adversity and take the brunt of a punishment of a wrong that was not their own understand that they were made to shield those in their influence.

Those who spend sleepless nights on projects, plans, and praying fervently for change in a world that often rejects them will not be forgotten.

Those who love while others hate and withhold harsh words in the face of those who spit anger at them are stronger than we realize.

Those who lift up the broken only do so because they know that they too were once lifted up by someone else.

In closing, if you know a leader who works fervently, know that you only see a portion of their efforts. In reality, they never stop. 

So the next time you feel like criticizing the leaders around you; take a moment and consider these words mentioned here. Consider that they care about the mission and people so much that they are willing to endure such hardship not for recognition but for the sake of an outcome that only God and they can see.

Support our leaders! Pray for them and their families! Take a moment and look around you. The things you enjoy currently may have been bought and paid for by a lifetime of personal sacrifice. Let us not destroy our future by attacking those who work to improve it.

God Bless,

Andy Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

Firefighter Marriage Training-Are you All In?

Firefighter Marriage Training-Are you All In?

Firefighter Marriage Training: Are you All in?

Firefighters spend countless hours training and mastering their craft. We work, we sweat, we read and we teach. We repeat this process not because we ever master it but because we know that if we stop learning and training our knowledge, skills, and abilities will begin to fade. 

We invest in this so passionately so we will not fail those who are depending upon us and because we care so deeply.

Let us ask ourselves the following questions:

If we realize the importance of training in the fire service how much more should we realize the importance of training to become better husbands or wives?

If we were to conduct an honest self-assessment based on God’s word, how would our performance as husbands or wives be graded? 

So where do we begin? 

“85% of all wives surveyed said the most important prayer their husband could pray was that he would become the man, the husband, & the head of the home that God wanted him to be. This is the most important place for a man to begin praying” (The Praying Husband by Stormy O’Martian).

Prayer begins our journey in the proper direction. It keeps us focused on the goal and through God we stay equipped and encouraged to continue to grow in the role that we are called to lead our families.

In the fire service, we all follow the same basic process:
• We go through our recruit or basic training.
• We take intermediate or next level training.
• We begin to teach, mentor, and begin the process of moving up the ladder of leadership
• And at each step we continually review the fundamentals, practice them, and “seek continuous improvement” in our lives (John Dixon). 

So let us consider the application for our lives: 

When we began pursuing our spouse how far did we go to win their affection? Since that day have we continued this pursuit? 

Most of us would answer no for a variety of reasons: ambition, career path, children, or a myriad of other reasons have caused us to stop focusing on our marriages. If we apply the same logic to our marriages as we do to our fire service lives we can see that we are beginning to become complacent in our marriages. And complacency kills marriages just as it does firefighters.

So what can we do? We need resources, training, and marriage mentors. Let us begin a new and as we did in our recruit schools let’s look to our fundamental skills and education that come from God’s word, our teachers (marriage mentors), and begin to become as focused on our marriage as we are on our passionate professions.

What resources are available to assist us in this journey? The Bible, marriage ministry books such as: the power of the praying husband/wife by Stormy O’Martian, The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott and many more such as Fire Prevention for your Marriage by our friends Lori & Dan Mercer.

Where can we continue our training? Training sessions are available such as: Flame Fest by 24/7 Commitment Fire Family, The Art of Marriage & Weekend to Remember get-away’s by Focus on the Family, Marriage retreats by Fellowship of Christian Firefighters, and many more.

And another step that will help us all in our marriages is to become involved in marriage ministry by becoming a part of an accountability group. This is Peer Support for husbands and wives, stress first aid for our martial difficulties, and solid advice from those who have been through greater struggles than our own. 

As firefighters we know the danger of becoming complacent. Let us not allow complacency to enter anywhere into our lives especially our marriages. Our families are depending upon us and our great devotion for the fire service ought to be ought of our greater love for God and our families. Keep these priorities in order, stay accountable, and never stop training.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries