Facing Firefighter Burn-out? Perhaps it’s time for some fire behavior training for our souls!

 “For we all know so much, but we have forgotten what it all meant.” (Ravi Zacharias).

As one travels along the path of life, we can become weary from the issues of life. Our fiery passion that we all began with is often snuffed out by negativity, conflicts, tribulations, and the diminishing number of passionate firefighters around us. 

What then can we do to reignite the fire within ourselves? 

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:3)

A fire that has entered the decay phase has consumed all of the available oxygen around it and begins to darken and diminish but STILL remains hot. This is a vivid description of our hearts when we begin to burn-out. 

Our fire isn’t lacking fuel but merely the air (or encouragement) to support its growth until someone comes along and opens a door, a window breaks, or ventilation is accomplished and our fire will grow to even bigger than before.

In our lives as we passionately pursue our objectives the very air we need for growth, which is encouragement from others, can be consumed by the darkness of bitterness. Negativity can easily consume our passion and make us believe that there is no hope in re-ignition. But then, someone comes along and recognizes the potential within us. They see a fuel rich environment! And they provide the encouragement that gives our fire the breath of fresh air that was so desperately needed.

A fire needs fuel, heat, air, and the uninterrupted chemical chain reaction to continue to burn. So as we pursue our calling to love, serve, and lead others on our journey let us remember that we need the following:

Fuel-To continue on our journey we need fuel to keep burning. Those who are the most passionate can and will experience burn-out without replenishing their fuel. This can be prevented by surrounding ourselves with like-minded individuals who can provide guidance.

Heat-A fire must continually heat the fuel to pyrolize the material producing the combustible vapors necessary to support combustion. Once we receive encouragement from our ‘fuel’ we can provide heat which is positive reinforcement by training, going to conferences, changing our environment (which may mean changing our station assignment), and developing disciplines that keep us burning with intensity. These disciplines that we need to continually develop are prayer, study, teaching, service, and continuous improvement.

Air-Without air our fires will go out. We can stay in the ‘flow path’ of growth by developing relationships with encouraging individuals who seek out the best in us no matter what we are going through. These individuals are recognized by their ability to always speak the right words, at the right time, and they check on us periodically. To have friends such as these is a gift from God and they will lift us up through our phases of burn-out. We need to remember to thank God daily for encouragement from His word, from others, and for the opportunity to provide encouragement to others.

Uninterrupted chemical chain reaction- This where we as firefighters behave differently than fire. Everyone needs an interruption every now and then. The fire service should NOT be everything to us, it is a way of life, and our calling but one day we will retire. What then? Is our identity so deeply intertwined with our title that we will lose all hope once we lay down our helmets? NO! The fire service is a huge part of us but we need time away to refocus, recharge, and rest in God’s peace. We are firefighters because of our servant hearts and that can never be taken away from us if we will keep our focus on God.

Firefighter Rehab: 

We need to remember that God gave us six days for labor and one day for rest. This was done for our benefit. We can practice this by taking mini-vacations from the fire service and we will find that we are renewed and burning with even more intensity for the calling we are blessed with. We can avoid burn-out by practicing a periodic ‘Rehab’ so that our hearts will not grow weary.

As Ray McCormack says “Keep Fire in your life.” I pray that we all keep God’s Holy Fire burning within us and that is a fire no one can ever extinguish. 

God Bless,

Andy Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

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