Not too long ago, I had fallen victim to the poison of bitterness and even considered leaving the fire department. I would often ask “Does my service even matter anymore?” I was blessed to hear a man speak by the name of Rick Lasky on Pride and Ownership. It was as if God told him to speak directly to me. I felt renewed and energized, but sadly I fell down again. It was not until one day in church when I cried out to God that I received my answer.
You see, I was relying on my own power and my own ability to sustain my calling. I wanted so bad to make a difference that it drove me over the edge when I failed. I felt that I no longer made a difference until I noticed some of my brothers around me struggling.
Then I saw difficulty become opportunity. I learned that the fire service is not a spiritual detriment but a spiritual opportunity! Our ashes from the fires of our life become beautiful opportunities. One of my favorite songs emphasizes this point well:
“They say that you make beauty out of ashes but something has to burn before you do.”
My friends, I want you to know this: You make a difference every day!
Remember these words and think on them the next time you feel the pain of bitterness and want to give up.
Every day that you decide to smile in the face of adversity you will unknowingly lift someone else’s spirit.
Every day you choose to serve the impoverished, the addict, the homeless with compassion and love you make a difference.
Every day you choose to do the hard work of being honest instead of taking the easy way out you have sown a seed in another’s heart of what integrity truly means.
Every day that you work out instead of lying on the couch and complaining you set the example.
Every day that you read, train, and mentor others you make an impact on their future for the moment and for their lifetime.
Every day that you bow your head and pray you show others that your allegiance goes to a higher calling than any badge can bestow.
Every day that you take the time to listen to your brother/sister, who is struggling, you show what it truly means to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2a).
Every day that you refuse to fall victim to bitterness you will lead without even knowing.
Every day that you put your faith and your family first over all other commitments, you are teaching others how to prioritize their lives.
Many would stop at this point and say but “Why me? What difference can I possibly make?”
Do not underestimate the power of your influence, your encouragement, and your compassion for others. When the world tells you that you can’t make a difference pick up a Bible and read. Read about all the men and women who faced insurmountable circumstances but God showed his mighty power through them. Read about Paul (a mentor), Barnabus (an encourager), and Timothy (a disciple). Surround yourself with individuals like these: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
When you face great opposition, read about Jesus and how he loved in spite of circumstances and how he led in the face of adversity. Read about how He prayed with great anguish when he was dismayed. Read and see how He had compassion on the sick, the imprisoned, the homeless, the widow, and the orphan. Read about how He did all of this not for the world’s recognition but out of God’s great love for us all.
If you want to make a difference, if you want to renew your passion, and if you want to truly help others; welcome back to your calling. Call upon God. He will give you the strength that you desire. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
And if you believe that you can’t share your passionate beliefs at work consider this: And let your profession be your pulpit as “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:14) For by our actions our beliefs become tangible and we may lead others without every saying a word. As Saint Francis of Assisi said “In all things go and preach the Gospel, and if necessary use words.”
So as you don your PPE as you prepare to fight a fire so pick up your armor and let God renew your spirit as He has predestined you for good works. Let us set the example by stepping forward and doing the work we were created to do.
May God reignite the fire within us all when we stare down discouragement and turn difficulty into discussion, opposition into opportunity, struggle into strength, and the tests into our testimony.
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries