“Early on he worked more than 64 hours a week arriving home between 8 and 10 pm each night. The cost of the lifestyle was his marriage. ‘All I worked for was wiped out with one phone call to the divorce lawyer.” —An excerpt from Faith on the Fire Line by Fellowship of Christian Firefighters.—
The Fire Service is a truly demanding profession. For those who are blessed to be a part of this noble calling can often fall victim into the trap of ambition.
At first, our efforts seem noble; after all we are bettering ourselves to serve our community which also helps to insure our safety thereby showing the utmost regard for our loved ones at home, right?
It starts with a spark and we are the tinder. Before we know we are a roaring fire. We are consuming everything in our path that is fuel: textbooks, conferences, classes, on-line material, and on and on…
But then something happens, we look forward at all of our accolades, knowledge, and skills but there is an emptiness that is creeping into our heart. What is this? Why do we feel this way?
It is conviction. In the midst of our search for success and helping others we have forgotten about our first priority: Our family!
Another class that we teach and we miss another ball game….
Another hour at the desk late at night and our spouse falls asleep in tears feeling more and more alone…
Another conference we attend away from family, and our children are growing up…
Another promotion we earn and responsibility we take on, while our role at home is diminishing and fading…
And then we hit rock bottom…
The pinnacle of success is not the pinnacle of significance. A thousand lives impacted and saved on the fire ground while we neglect our own family is the ultimate hypocrisy that many of us, including myself, have tried to justify as “part of the job.”
Repeat these words:
“Neglecting our family is not part of the job!”
Our ever increasing divorce rates should not be part of the job. How are we to serve the public and set the example of integrity if we fail to serve our loved ones at home?
It has to be a balance. God has designed work but he also has designed rest.
21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest ; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.”
How much do we rest? Do we rest with our families? Or do we seek rest in other places away from them?
His plan for our life is to have a relationship with Him through Jesus, model that relationship within our families (our first crew), and then model that relationship to others.
As firefighters, we are “overseers”, those called to watch over others. It is a great responsibility but yet there is one greater: Our role as leaders in our family. They are our first crew. They are our home church. They are directly under our care and supervision. We shall not fail them and abandon them to the fires of this life alone.
As a husband or a wife, you have been given a great blessing and a responsibility. It is to take care of those in your household and lead them in the “way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)
1 Timothy 3: 1-5
Here is a trustworthy saying : Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife,temperate,self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
In closing, prayerfully consider this application-Balancing our checkbook:
In our lives, we must be careful that as we serve others that we do not forget about our most noble calling which is to love, serve, and lead our families.
Let us all take a moment, and perform a spreadsheet of the commitments in our lives. Begin by adding the hours that we work (all of our jobs), the hours we sleep, the hours dedicated to other commitments (studies, writing, extracurricular activities, time away from home, etc.) and then perform this simple equation:
168 hours in a week –Work-sideline job- sleep-extra activities & commitments=time we have left over.
24 hours X 7 days: 168 hours
Average Firefighter work week: 56 hours
Sideline job: 30 hours a week
Average Firefighter sleep cycle: (4-6 hours a night) 48 hours a week (should be 56 hours a week to be healthy)
Extra Curricular Activities: Gym, writing, school: 10 hours a week
This leaves 24 hours a week for our families. Or to put it in terms that really hit home, 3.85 hours a day with our loved ones!
In our homes and in life this isn’t a guarantee that those 3.85 hours means that everyone will magically be there to spend time with us. What about their commitments? Your spouse’s job, your children’s school and activities. What about life?
Now how much time do we really have with our loved ones?
They say, if you want to know what is most important to you in life start by looking at your checkbook. Whatever receives the most of our financial capabilities is usually the most important. Let us, all look at our ‘checkbook’ of life and start managing our ‘life resources’ more in line with what is most important to us:
May we all take the time to realize our greatest investment should be in our faith and our families and that will be reflected in our work not that our work should ever take priority over them.
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries