Conducting a Firefighter Size-up

Conducting a Firefighter Size-up

Conducting a Firefighter Size-up:

As one soldiers on in sharing the love of Christ with others in the fire service there is a consistent theme that we encounter. It is the encounter of the wounded and broken soul who has built walls around their heart in defense of the hurt in this world. Their eyes seem to cry out the Psalmist words “My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, but I find no rest.” Psalm 22:2 

Their mannerisms and behaviors bear the scars of worry and anxiety. Anxiety has damaged their health, disrupted their productivity, causing them to negatively treat others, and has ultimately reduced their ability to trust in God. This is the place where we meet others on the broken road to Christ. 

Consider this: 

How many of us have worked with or currently work with someone who is cynical, bitter, and unforgiving? 

Have we ever worked with someone who seems to know it all but yet continually betrays other’s trust? 

How many people have we met that seem cold and will not open up to anyone? 

If you have answered yes to any of the following questions you have a great opportunity in front of you in the fire service. Unfortunately, many do more harm to them than good. Many people, including myself have offered short quick fix answers to someone’s life long problems of pain and struggle. Many say they are willing to help but walk away when it becomes too personal. Many of us become defensive when another is bitter or seems to attack everyone in their path. “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12: 25 

The Fire service is in desperate need of encouragement. Disciples of Christ are needed to rise up and “answer us when we call.” (Psalm 20: 9) Men and women are broken, hurting, suffering, and in our traditionalist mentality we think that pride means we should ask for help. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

In the fire service, we do nothing alone. Every aspect of our lives is based upon team concepts whether it be stretching a hose line, performing CPR, to taking care of our daily duties; we do these things together! Why should one who saves others who now finds themselves in desperate need of help suffer in silence? 

Have you been in such a place? 
Are you there now? 
Would you like to do something about it? 

Whether we realize it or not our painful experiences do not invalidate us they have actually prepared us to help others. As a firefighter, you are given another unique opportunity: To save other firefighters! No one else is more qualified than you right now! No one else will be welcomed into their inner circle of trust. And no one else can understand the things that we see like another firefighter can. 

As a firefighter, you can break down the walls of bronze that our built around another’s heart through God’s love and mercy. He has divinely prepared us for this position and has been training us all along the roads of our lives. “For He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron” (Psalm 107: 15-16). 

If you are ready to answer the call of Christ and reach out to your brothers and sisters in need there are many ways to do so. Have you considered how much training that we as firefighters go through to be prepared to answer the call? How much training have we received to answer the call of the hurting, the broken, and the desperate needs of our brothers and sisters within our own fire houses? 

The good news is there are many opportunities available to be better equipped to help our brothers and sisters in the fire house. In your spare moments today consider the following training opportunities and learn more about them: 

Critical Incident Stress Management: After completing my CISM training, I realized how valuable this training is. It is an honor to serve those in crisis but I consider this training a must for all first responders due to the personal crisis we all face every day. Take the time to learn more about this valuable training and consider serving on a CISM team. 

“CISM is a method of helping first responders and others who have been involved with events that leave them emotionally and/or physically affected by those incidents. CISM is a process that enables peers to help their peers understand problems that might occur after an event. This process also helps people prepare to continue to perform their services or in some cases return to a normal lifestyle.” LEARN MORE AT http://www.icisf.org/ 

Fire Life Safety Initiative 13: We should be as passionate about saving our own so we can save others. There are many more out there who offer free training in this subject and you can visit the NFFF’s website and receive free training on peer support as well. (http://www.everyonegoeshome.com/16-initiatives/13-psychological-support/

Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance: Jeff Dill offers several programs that provide invaluable training in saving our own. This training is to directly educate firefighters/ Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel and their families about behavioral health issues such as depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and addictions, as well as firefighter suicides. Please check out his website and the current workshops available: http://ffbha.org/About_Us.html 

Discipleship: “When I was a company officer, one of the joys was to see one of the firefighters on our truck get promoted to captain. This was especially true when I was able to witness the change that began when a rookie firefighter was assigned to our truck. I felt that it was my responsibility to ensure that they were well prepared for their current position and future new positions.” Keith Helms Discipleship SOG. FCFInternational has developed a Standard Operating Guideline (SOG), Essentials of Biblical Discipleship, to assist members in discipling other first responders. Please read over this document in order to better understand the direction that FCFInternational would like to take with the Discipleship Ministry. 
http://fellowshipofchristianfirefighters.org/images/shared/Documents%20and%20Forms/Discipleship%20Ministry/Chapter%204.pdf 

Marriage Ministry: Firefighters and first responders today suffer one of the highest divorce rates in the country. Perhaps your marriage is in trouble or you work with someone who is struggling. Would you like to be able to help yourself or others? Consider learning more about the following resources: 

Fire Family Life: Firefighting is a noble profession. And also one that takes an emotional toll sometimes at the expense of marriages and family life. Our Mission is to honor, strengthen, support and encourage fire service marriages and families. With professionalism, integrity, top quality programs and a positive environment, we offer: • Free Online resources about marriage and fire family life.

The Fire Wife Sisterhood – A private wives support community 
Rescue My Marriage program (currently only for wives) 
Events – live and virtual including our exclusive couples weekend, Flame Fest Learn more at http://www.firefighterwife.com 

Fellowship of Christian Firefighters International Marriage Retreat: How much is your marriage worth to you? The fire service can be a difficult place to serve and could cost you your marriage. FCFInternational will once again be holding a marriage retreat to help you thrive in your marriage. 

We will be learning how to treat our spouses like a CHIEF. Reserve your room today for only $98.99 at the Magnuson Hotel in Clarksville, Virginia. Call 434-374-5023 and tell them you are with the Fellowship of Christian Firefighters International to get your discounted rate. The rest is on us. Learn more at http://www.fellowshipofchristianfirefighters.com/index.cfm?section=1 

The Weekend to Remember Get-Away Life has daily challenges such as jobs, kids, activities, errands, and life have a way of overwhelming a marriage. Before you know it, other things are taking more priority above what’s most important: your spouse and family. FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway is your chance to make a change. Learn more at: http://www.familylife.com/wtrfall14?gclid=Cj0KEQjwhuqrBRCFuPz4ipOx5JIBEiQAZJ7F-gmxH9SAlyM7KORTajcLZ0HSrhuWczShqlNUh9JVV8IaAv-t8P8HAQ 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries: In 2010, God placed a burden upon my heart. I learned through this experience that the fire service isn’t a spiritual detriment but a spiritual opportunity. Through many years of talking with firefighters, counseling, encouraging, and simply being there for one another I learned that there is a common theme that unites us all: brokenness. 

We as first responders, are not superhuman but we perform the extraordinary. Yet when the fires of life touch our own lives we often don’t apply our training to these situations. The statistics are overwhelming. Firefighters suffer some of the highest rates of suicide, divorce, substance abuse and alcoholism, and suffer from PTSD, and anxiety and depression. We the rescuer are in need of rescuing but many of us refuse to ask for help. 

The purpose of Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries is to restore the hearts of firefighters/first responders with the hope of Jesus Christ. Our mission is to provide the critically needed resources that many of us either refuse to seek or don’t know how to ask for help. This mission is teach, empower, and equip our fellow firefighters and first responders with the skills, the discernment, and show them that the greatest save they could ever make may be right beside them within their own fire house or their own home. 

We offer daily encouragement through our website, Facebook, twitter, and an email subscription. We offer a Firefighter MAY-DAY page that lists resources such as the ones mentioned above specifically for those in emergency services. Our goal is to encourage firefighters that may be in a dark place. We want them to know that they are not alone and we refuse to ignore the increasing trend of rising behavioral health incidents. 

Please visit our website at http://www.bringingbackbrotherhood.org for more information or contact myself personally as there is so much more we can do together. Keep the Faith and remember the greatest save you may every make may be your own life or your fellow firefighters in the fire house. Begin practicing the skills of a firefighter size-up today. Watch for the cues and clues of a ‘working fire’ within your fellow firefighter’s lives. Don’t crawl past a fire! Let’s extinguish the flames of these issues together. 

God bless, Andy J. Starnes 
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

http://www.bringingbackbrotherhood.org starnesandrew1@gmail.com 

704-507-7156

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Planning Section Chief

Planning Section Chief

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)

During the course of an incident, as it begins to progress in size and complexity the planning section is established. This member is responsible for collecting, evaluating, and disseminating information about the development of the incident.

While the ‘fires’ of our lives are being fought, we must also be simultaneously: taking care of our family and their needs, pay the bills, buy and prepare meals, and complete the long list of to-do’s in life that are necessary to keep things running (Dr. appointments, oil changes, home maintenance, and on, and on).

How distracted we can become when a crisis consumes our focus! 

We are taught to avoid the dreaded tunnel vision in the world of firefighting but when our child falls ill, family crisis hits, or personal calamity strikes us down; can we be expected to maintain that level of professional calmness?

Think of a time when something major happened in your life; and remember how much of your time, focus, and energy it consumed?

What would you have given to have someone taking care of the entire entire infrastructure’ of your life while you face down adversity?

To have an individual supporting us during the course of life’s “big incidents” who is calmly planning for the next step is a priceless commodity. My friends, this is the comfort we have in Christ during these trials.

The Bible tells us that if we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and then all things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:3) To surround ourselves with wise Christian counsels who help hold us accountable is God’s definition of success.

As we form and invest in relationships throughout our lives we may sacrifice our time, our money, and our schedule to help someone. But then, when our life comes crashing down; we can take comfort in knowing that God will provide someone to help us during our trials.

Who do we go to first?

“Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” (Psalm 119:24).

God’s word is also our counselor. We should seek Him out daily in prayer, study, and worship. The more we spend time with Him the more at peace we will be in good times and bad. This ‘peace that passes all understanding’ comes from being reconciled to God.

To put it simply, our hearts are at rest because we know He has forgiven us and has made a way for us. This is peace during the storm that cannot be bought.

The Application:
God provides us with three ways to receive Counsel:

1) The Holy Spirit- This is “The Counselor, He will teach you all things.” (John 14:26). If you have accepted Christ in to your heart, pray earnestly each and every day for guidance especially before making a decision. He will give you the words and direction.

2) God’s word- “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” Your word is a light to my path” Psalm 119:24. Even in the darkest trials, we can find hope in His word. It is only through His word that we find true comfort because everyone else will seem to try to know what you’re going through but only those who have walked a mile in your shoes can understand. Jesus has done this-by being tempted, by being angered, by being betrayed, by being persecuted, by being homeless, by being wrongly imprisoned, and by being crucified for a crime He did not commit. He has ‘bore every burden’ we may face.

3) Godly Counsel- By surrounding ourselves with wise mentors who will help keep us accountable, who will encourage us, and guide us through the difficult times in life their relationship allows us to persevere through it all. Throughout our lives, it means so much to have individuals who you trust show up at the right time, with the right words, and with big shoulders to hold you up. We must be about the business of investing in relationships.

In closing, the next time we are facing one of life’s big trials take comfort in knowing ‘The Planning Section Chief’ has been watching over us our entire lives. He awaits our call, He longs for us to seek Him out with all our heart, and He is there among our trusted counsel providing the words, the comfort, and the needs of our heart that only God could know.

God Bless,

Andy Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

C.A.N. You Hear Me Now?

C.A.N. You Hear Me Now?

C.A.N. You Hear Me Now?

As Firefighters, upon our arrival at an incident we transmit a size-up to the other responding companies. Even though they may know what we are facing this information communicates the conditions that we are facing and the needs we may have.

The conditions we see, the actions we will take, and the resources we will need to complete the task are apart of our CAN report in a size up.

In our lives, we will respond to many “incidents” that are personal, painful, and as in a fire, some may appear impossible for us to handle. We will experience harsh conditions, we will have to take difficult actions, and we will need divine resources to get through these fiery trials.

When we face down the difficulties of life let us perform a proper size-up and communicate it through prayer. We can take comfort in the word of God:

“In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.” Psalm 20:1
Many times we will find ourselves speechless at our moment of trial. 

We can take comfort and rejoice in the confidence that we have in our training.

As a firefighter speaks over the radio communicating the conditions they encounter; they speak when others cannot because of their training.

As a believer, we can speak the words that are written on our hearts because of our “spiritual training.” The daily discipline of studying God’s word will bring words of comfort to us when we encounter these harsh conditions. 

Therefore we are prepared to do the work we are called to do:
2 Timothy 3:17 “Using the Scriptures, those who serve God will be prepared and will have everything they need to do every good work.”

And when we are broken and in agony we can remember that Jesus cried out on the cross these words of Psalm 22:1-

“My God, my God why have you abandoned Me?”

We can feel the heartfelt honesty in the words in the Psalm 22 verse 19 “Lord, don’t leave me! You are my strength—hurry and help me!”

We can relate to the urgency of one in need of rescue as we have been there to help others. So we look upon God with open hands and know that a “broken and contrite heart He will not despise.”

We can take comfort in knowing that there is no amount of interference that can stop our “prayerful size-up.”
“Before they call, I will answer and while they are yet speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24

Jesus has torn the veil that separated us from God. By His sacrifice we not only CAN call upon God but we will be heard.

His Actions on the cross have made “the way, the truth, and the life” for us. He sits at the right hand of the Father for the work is finished and He intercedes on our behalf.

Our Needs will be supplied through His Grace not because of anything we have done but what He has done for us. “For while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

So let us boldly approach God in prayer. Let us be honest and pour out our hearts and the conditions that we face will be no match for the actions of Jesus’s sacrifice for us.

And when we tell God our needs we know that “My God will use his glorious riches to give you everything you need. He will do this through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19”

Pick up the microphone of prayer, transmit our size-up, and let us rejoice in knowing that an answer is already on its way.

God Bless,

Andy Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries
bringingbackbrotherhood.org

Raising Our Children Well

Raising Our Children Well

The greatest lesson I have received in accountability and responsibility has been through the blessing of parenthood. God has shown me so much and continues to do so even through the eyes of a child. I have received my daily devotion while reading my daughter a children’s bible story. I have felt the weight of my own sin when my daughter has looked upon me when I have done wrong. I have realized that God is close to children in such a way that their faith is often far greater than any of the greatest theologians. I have realized that in order to do the right thing, to follow God, to obey His word is worth it and it comes at a great cost: personally, politically, and professionally. 

Yet through all this I have seen the glory of heaven and God’s grace through the eyes of our child. I have realized the error of my own ways and even though there are many who don’t believe the way that I do; I soldier on knowing that God died for me: a lowly sinner. And if He would die for me & change my life then He can do the same in anyone’s life no matter their circumstances.

“The first step to correcting any error is repentance. Unless we are willing to say ‘I was wrong’, we will never know how to follow His right” (Ravi Zacharias).

The greatest privilege God has bestowed upon our marriage is one of parenting. From the moment I began to pray about having a family, to our prayers together, to the moment we found out, and to the moment we held our precious miracle: “Emma Caroline Starnes” has been covered in prayer.

God’s word reminds us that we are to be examples of “The Way” to our children. We must be diligent in continually seeking a closer walk with Jesus “lest you forget the things you have seen.”

“Only take heed to yourself, & diligently keep yourself lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children & grandchildren especially the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb…”(Deuteronomy 4:9).

In this particular scripture, Moses is commanding & instructing God’s people on obedience. We should not forget what God has done for us. The Israelite’s were rescued from slavery, led through the Red sea, fed manna from heaven but yet they rebelled. If we look closely at our own lives, we are not any different. God has blessed us in countless ways, saved us from our sin, and yet we often grumble, complain, and walk away from God. And then we try to justify our sin as the Israelite’s did.

In the midst of our journey through our own wilderness, we need to realize the great responsibility placed upon us. We are teaching, influencing, and molding the next generation which are our children. They are watching our every move, our every word, and more importantly they are watching when we fail. 

The things we have seen, our experiences, our failures, and how God has brought us through it all are a part of our story. They are all part of our testimony. We should tell our children God’s story, our story, and how God saved us from our sin. They need to know that we are fallen creatures as well and that through God there is hope in Jesus Christ. They need to see, feel, and touch our Christianity. Our love for God cannot be in proclamation only but it must be present in all aspects of our lives. 

For “the righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him” (Proverbs 20:7). To live a righteous life, is to always remember that we were bought with a price. To remember that “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God has paid the ultimate price for our redemption. It is up to us live a life that is worthy of such a gift. 

Our children need to know that sin has lost the battle and this world cannot justify our bad behaviors when we kneel before the Almighty. Only the blood of Jesus Christ saves us, redeems us, and transforms us. May we accept the challenge to be transformed and show the world that Jesus Christ lives and reigns in us. 

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

The First Obstacle in Leadership-Our Speech

The First Obstacle in Leadership-Our Speech

The First Obstacle in Leadership: Our Speech…

A leader’s words have profound impact. Whether we acknowledge it or not, words matter and can be the difference between a changed life and a life lived in despair. It is the first obstacle that leaders must fight daily to overcome which is:

“A leader must choose to Respond rather than React.” 

Biblical Example: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1)

It is a challenge to hold our tongue in the face of this world’s cruel language. We must remember that true power lies in our words. We can heal from physical wounds much faster than from hurtful words that wound us deeply. Ask anyone that we have meet, if they can recall the hurtful words spoken to them as a child, as a teenager, and in relationships past.  

I believe that the words that injure our heart are seared into our minds and only through the power of Jesus Christ can we forgive those who have left scars on our souls. It is human nature to hold on to our hurt it is supernatural to forgive and be set free.

Consider the power of words:

With a few words, a man can declare war: “you have the green light commander”

With a few words, an individual can commit adultery. 

With a few words, one can commit their life to another: “I do”

With a few words, an individual can inspire: “Be strong and courageous”

With a word, someone can lift our spirits or destroy them.  

It doesn’t take long for us to realize the reason why we carry hurts from our past. Hurtful words seem to echo in our minds, but that is not where God wants us to dwell. The devil wants us to remain in our pain and focus more on our hurt than our possibilities. 

We have all seen more good done by those who choose to forgive, love in spite of their pain, and share their stories with others. This is the power of a testimony which is one who is brave enough to share their story and how God brought them through the dark times, changed their heart, and brought peace to their life.

As leaders we must understand that we have great power given to us from above. We carry the power of life and death in our words. With this power we can build up or tear down. With this same power we can destroy our very own soul. 

God’s word is full of encouragement. Therefore, let us choose to move past the bitterness and share the good word! Sometimes all someone needs is a smile, a kind word, or a gesture of compassion that may make the difference in their day. 

God Bless,

Andrew Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

The Unappreciated 

The Unappreciated 

Are your efforts ridiculed, stolen, not recognized? Welcome to a great company of leaders-
The Unappreciated:

There comes a time in everyone’s life where all their efforts seem to be failing…

There comes a time when nothing seems to work out despite our valiant efforts…

There comes a time when disaster strikes those closest to us that do well, while the wicked live on and prosper…

There comes a time when leaders will abuse their authority, slander & lie, promote mediocrity, and allow certain individuals who “fall in line” to break the rules while they discipline those who do what is right with the most rigid and harsh results as if to say “Look what doing right will cost you”…

There comes a time when, we work our entire life only to be struck down by illness right as we near retirement…

There comes a time, when we begin to walk with God, and many of our relationships fall apart and they view us as hateful and prejudiced despite all of the love we have for them…

There comes a time when our efforts & accomplishments are stolen by others and they even receive recognition for their theft as the originators of the work…

There comes a time, when our spouse turns cold and demands a divorce despite all we do to reconcile…

There comes a time in our lives when we feel lost, abandoned, and unappreciated…

When one pursues righteousness, confesses their sins openly, and cares deeply for others; one would reason that they would be valued…

What then can we do when these trials and tribulations come?
Are we to give up hope as the world seems to only reward those who agree with their values?

Sadly, so many people choose suicide as the answer to their hopeless situation when in reality there lies a hope that cannot be taken from us…

Remember this: Values determine relationships….

What we value, what we cherish, what we know as sacred….

Those beliefs will determine our work ethic, our world view, and if we differ from the world we should be prepared for the storm…

Take comfort in the following words when the tribulations of this world come to our doorstep:

Jesus gave his disciples very specific and powerful instructions in the book of John. His words are for those who claim Him as Lord and Savior. This means we are disciples, which should be understood what responsibility we have and what hardships we will face as such:

“The term “disciple” is derived from the Koine Greek word mathetes, which means a pupil (of a teacher) or an apprentice (to a master craftsman), coming to English by way of the Latin discipulus meaning a learner while the more common English word is student. A disciple is different from an apostle, which instead means a messenger. While a disciple is one who learns from a teacher, an apostle is one sent to deliver those teachings or a message” (Wikipedia).

As disciples, then we are learners, pupils, or apprentices to the ultimate master craftsman…

So why do we expect those who don’t share these same values as our Master to appreciate ours?

Should we be surprised?

On the contrary, we have forgotten our master craftsman’s words and may have slowly began to become an apprentice of the world instead.

When the world tells us that all truth is relative we know:
Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). 

When we face the trouble, trial, and tribulation we remember:
Jesus said “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-3).

When the wicked prosper and are rewarded for their efforts we remember:

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and the He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded” (John 13:2-5).

One could write volumes on just these few mentioned scriptures but for this writing we should note that Jesus knew what He was facing (the crucifixion and God pouring out His wrath upon Him) and He loved those who were His own to the very end! Remember, as He was dying on the cross “Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). 

 
Remember and read (the book of John is a great place to start) the life of Jesus and see the Son of God, born into abject poverty in a stable where shepherds were chosen as His first messengers. Shepherds were considered outcasts and lowly in terms of societal class in Biblical times. He was baptized, even though He was sinless, and He sought out disciples who were all imperfect sinful men. 

His three short years of ministering to them changed their lives, transformed their hearts, and He taught, healed, and stood up for truth. Those disciples went on to change the world and they all faced incredible hardships. All of them but one died for their efforts. And they were not recognized during their lives for their efforts but they were “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1b) of those who prophets who had gone before them. 

They knew what they were facing and they endured to the very end. Why? Because they knew as Jesus did who they belonged to, what reward awaited them, and that their love would lead to eternal dividends in the lives of generations to come.

Therefore, will we “grow weary in doing good?”

Or will we remember who we belong to, what we WILL face, and what reward awaits us?

All of this we do out of love for the one who loved us to the very end even though even He was unappreciated by the very people He came to save. Don’t give up on this world, Jesus didn’t!

God Bless,
Andy Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

The Power of One

The Power of One

Many firefighters today are suffering. They are not ill, or suffering from a physical malady but they are suffering in their heart. What is this great suffering that I speak of? It is the suffering of a dedicated individual in a poisoned environment. It can be likened to a crop struggling to grow in contaminated soil. Their roots are desperately trying to draw the nourishment it needs to survive but they are continually fed with negativity instead of nutrients.

At every turn, it seems their efforts or achievements are ridiculed, targeted, and or persecuted for their good works. In many cases, firefighters have mentioned how the culture is actually rewarding and encouraging many to be ‘unethical.’ So one must pose the question: How does a passionate, devoted, and dedicated individual not only survive in such a climate but thrive?

Let us ask ourselves, where does our motivation come from? 

 
“It would be no surprise, if a study of secret causes were undertaken to find that every golden era in human history proceeds from the devotion and righteous passion of some single individual” (Richard Ellsworth Day-Filled with The Spirit).

Many times, we as leaders look upon leadership with envy of their successes without thought of their suffering. We look upon the outcome of a lifetime of dedication, devotion, and sacrifice and forget that this was a human being who struggled and sacrificed greatly. We look upon their bold speeches and courageous moments but never think of their moments of loneliness, their moments where they felt betrayed, and when they contemplated giving up. The next time you are with one whom you greatly respect as a leader and ask them to tell you about their struggles as a leader. Their wisdom can be defined as one who understands knowledge because of the blessing and survival of personal tribulation. 

A quick historical look into our past allows us to gather insight on the tribulations of our past leaders:

In the beginning God called Noah to build an arc to save his people. Imagine the ridicule he faced by those around him while he build this massive arc in the middle of dry land. Yet because of his faith, he prevailed and God saved him and his family. God called a man by the name of Abram to leave his country and his family to go to a foreign land. Abram left everything to follow God. Imagine the thoughts he must have had as began his journey yet he trusted God and God was faithful to him. Especially after all that he had been through and God blesses him with a son in his old age but then came the test of his faith. God instructs Abraham to take Isaac up on a mountain and sacrifice his son to God. Imagine Abraham’s pain as he bound his son, placed him upon that altar, and stretched out his hand to slay his only son. But God intervened! God saw that Abraham’s faith was genuine and provided a lamb in the place of Abraham’s son. 

May we consider what God has done for us all?

He sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ into the world. He loved in spite of the hatred of the world. He forgave where others condemned. He held those accountable who refused and abused God’s grace. He endured persecution, betrayal, and was crucified for a crime He did not commit. Throughout all this He never wavered, never responded with hate, and never quit. And God laid His only Son on that cross and did not intervene. He allowed Jesus to die for our sins, pay the debt we could not pay, and then showed the entire world that sin and death did not have the final word by resurrecting Jesus on the third day. As we struggle to grow in the poisoned soil, may we draw our strength from our true source of encouragement: God’s word!

May we also realize as we struggle that many have gone before us and kept the faith in spite of great opposition. Many have endured persecution and in the end prevailed. Many great achievements, passionate movements, and powerful changes have all been accomplished because one individual trusted in God and the call that was placed upon their own heart. They “leaned not own their own understanding” (Proverbs 3:4a) and when they were hurt and falsely accused they remembered:

We are not alone: “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Our struggles are not in vain: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

We will overcome: Jesus said “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).

Only from the mountaintop can we see the beauty of the valley:

When we are in the valley we feel overwhelmed and often feel like giving up…

When those around you ridicule for taking the high road of honesty and integrity…

When your efforts and achievements are sabotaged…

When you are falsely accused…

When you are betrayed…

When you suffer for doing what is right…

Remember the struggles of those who have gone before us. Remember that every leader who embraced the calling within their heart has faced the fiery arrows of the devil. We are not the first and will not be the last. However, we are to remain strong by trusting in our true source of strength. We are to have joy because we know the end of this story. We are know that God will use all of these things for good and we will not give up! We are not alone and we will not quit!

God Bless you all,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries