The fire service will always be a profession of continual learning, training, and education. It is a part of the very identity of the fire service. Our citizens call for help and firefighters respond no matter what the emergency may be. This implies that firefighters must be ready for anything so their learning must be continuous. We are continually adding services to our already large service delivery model requiring a constant discipline of training, education, and development.
In the face of such an overwhelming challenge, how does one stay ahead of the learning curve?
How does a firefighter continue to evolve, grow, and improve throughout their journey?
How do we grow and master our new skill sets without diminishing our fundamental skills?
The answer is though a concept not foreign to the fire service. And this answer to our future is actually located in our past. We can see that our successful past leaders knew that the future of the fire service was dependent upon their succession planning. These principles are also taught to us in the Bible through Discipleship.
What is Discipleship? Disciple means learner and its root word comes from the word discipline. As firefighters we know the importance & success of our knowledge, skills, and abilities is based upon our discipline. A respected and mentor firefighter not only believes in discipline, they practice it, model it, and preach a daily discipline that ensures others will be successful as well.
In our faith, the process of Discipleship is about and going forth and sharing what you have learned: The Good News of Jesus Christ! A follower of Christ who is dedicated to prayer, study, worship, and service will be constantly about the business of growing closer to God. This is a discipline that translates across into our daily lives. As mentors and leaders we are constantly sharing what we have learned in our stations, in classes, and on the training grounds. Thus we can see a correlation between the daily discipline of our faith as it also encourages us to be disciplined in all aspects of our lives. To put it simply, if it’s important to us we will know it, share it, and go out of our way so others can do the same. Proverbs gives us insight into this:
“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Those that stay disciplined also tend to be the ones others look to for answers, guidance, and for instruction. So we can see that our future generations being successful is dependent upon our current daily disciplines. It has been said that one hour of teaching is equal to four hours of preparation. Therefore to share what we have learned from our Mentor ( like Paul in the Bible) needs also to be fueled by the fires of Encouragement (by our brothers & sisters who encourage us such as Barnabas in the Bible). We must then take seriously the gift we have been given by learning, applying, and teaching it to those we Disciple.
As we Disciple and teach others it reinforces our beliefs, our values, and strengthens the power of our faith just as it does when we teach other firefighters. We must also realize that as we teach others in the fire service, we are given a divine opportunity to influence them with our wisdom, knowledge, and encourage them.
In these moments of instruction and fellowship, God often opens doors to the hearts of those who are seeking knowledge. As Instructors and Disciple-makers, each of us should pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to be alert for those divine appointments to share the Good News with our brothers and sisters. Our success in sharing our message is greatly dependent on our timing, our delivery, and if we are truly seeking God’s guidance.
Let us consider these principles as a model to help us on our journey through life and the fire service. As we study our fire service curriculum with passion and dedication let us pour an even greater intensity into our study of God’s word so we may be fully equipped to do every good work.
Remember, our God is a God of relationship and we were not meant to be alone. It is so important to Him that Jesus Christ died on a cross so that we could have a relationship with Him through His Son. So “as you are going” about your journeys invest in the relationships of others. Seek out mentors, encouragers, and “train others up in the way that they should go.” God’s word tells us that “iron sharpens iron” so let us stay sharp through the brotherhood that has been offered to us and continue to keep our fires burning brightly.
May God Bless you all!
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries