Are We Ready To Face The Greatest Challenge In Leadership?

Are We Ready To Face The Greatest Challenge In Leadership?

Are we ready to face the greatest challenge in leadership? 

As we strive to make a difference, to fulfill our calling, and to seek out God’s purpose in our lives we will all face the same struggle.

We will all face an individual that despite all our efforts they will continue to disappoint us. 

We will all work desperately with someone and they will turn away.

We will all strive and pray for them to overcome their demons but they will continue to struggle.

We have all met this person and for most of us, this person is our most difficult leadership challenge.

Let us meet our greatest leadership challenge: 

This person is ourselves.

The harsh and most humbling fact in leadership is this:

“If we cannot lead ourselves we cannot lead others.” Frank Viscuso 

Perhaps you’ve come to this realization as I have. Perhaps you have come to the place of brokenness and see the depth of your own inadequacy. 

Perhaps you have looked long at your own life as I have and realized how far short we all fall to the truths we proclaim.

How does one lead if our own hearts & minds continue to disobey? 

If you have come to the place of brokenness, humility, and the end of your own strength; congratulations! You are now ready to be lead and lead others.

“The breaking of the outward man is the basic experience of all those who serve God. This must be accomplished before He can use us in an effectual way.” (Watchman Nee)

The answer to leading ourselves is actually in our submission. Our submission to the greatest leader of all time: Jesus Christ.

God uses and has used the most ill-equipped, weak, and broken individuals in mighty ways not only to lead but to bring glory to Him. It is the most comforting peace to come to the foot of the cross and report for duty knowing that we will not be turned away but strengthened & empowered like never before.

If we submit to His divine guidance we receive new instructions that are written upon our hearts “so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).

If we realize that we cannot lead ourselves on our own we recognize our need for God. God isn’t looking for worldly leaders; He is looking for those who will follow Him boldly in servant leadership as Jesus did. 

Once we submit to His loving command the weight of control is off our shoulders and now we bear a new burden. The burden of bearing one another’s hearts. 

We will have a new strength that is not of ourselves. “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1).

But if we are weak how in ourselves how are we strong? 

The world will tell us it is counterintuitive to think that once we are weak then we are strong. But it is God’s promise and provision that equips the empty vessel and not the pride filled leader who no longer needs guidance. 

We must continually submit to his guidance and love so we may be strong in the Lord. Otherwise we will become arrogant and foolishly think that we are the reason we are a good leader.

Let us ask ourselves this:

How many leaders do we know that led well relied solely on themselves?

Those that truly want to lead realize that they are called and to be called means that we are answering to a higher authority. God’s authority provides us with unlimited guidance and wisdom.

Paul, the apostle who wrote a large part of the New Testament, was one of the most educated men of his day yet he continually sought the Lord for guidance. He suffered hardships and pain; yet he realized that if he relied on his physical strength he would fail.

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

In our weakness, we show others how God can be glorified by our trials, our tribulations, and how we endure when all others lose hope.

In our leadership journey, when we rise and face our greatest leadership challenge. Look upon our reflection and repeat the words:

“I am not my own; I was bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 paraphrase).

When the demons of pride and doubt enter our minds repeat the words:

“No temptation has overtaken me except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear. But when I am tempted, he will also provide a way out so that I can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 paraphrase).

If we are ready to admit that we cannot do this alone; that we cannot stand on our own strength this is when we can receive the power that will never fail us which is the divine leadership of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Embrace Him as leader of our lives each & every day!

God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Are we ready to face the greatest challenge in leadership?

Are we ready to face the greatest challenge in leadership?

Are we ready to face the greatest challenge in leadership? 

As we strive to make a difference, to fulfill our calling, and to seek out God’s purpose in our lives we will all face the same struggle.

We will all face an individual that despite all our efforts they will continue to disappoint us. 

We will all work desperately with someone and they will turn away.

We will all strive and pray for them to overcome their demons but they will continue to struggle.

We have all met this person and for most of us, this person is our most difficult leadership challenge.

Let us meet our greatest leadership challenge: 

This person is ourselves.

The harsh and most humbling fact in leadership is this:

“If we cannot lead ourselves we cannot lead others.” Frank Viscuso 

Perhaps you’ve come to this realization as I have. Perhaps you have come to the place of brokenness and see the depth of your own inadequacy. 

Perhaps you have looked long at your own life as I have and realized how far short we all fall to the truths we proclaim.

How does one lead if our own hearts & minds continue to disobey? 

If you have come to the place of brokenness, humility, and the end of your own strength; congratulations! You are now ready to be lead and lead others.

“The breaking of the outward man is the basic experience of all those who serve God. This must be accomplished before He can use us in an effectual way.” (Watchman Nee)

The answer to leading ourselves is actually in our submission. Our submission to the greatest leader of all time: Jesus Christ.

God uses and has used the most ill-equipped, weak, and broken individuals in mighty ways not only to lead but to bring glory to Him. It is the most comforting peace to come to the foot of the cross and report for duty knowing that we will not be turned away but strengthened & empowered like never before.

If we submit to His divine guidance we receive new instructions that are written upon our hearts “so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).

If we realize that we cannot lead ourselves on our own we recognize our need for God. God isn’t looking for worldly leaders; He is looking for those who will follow Him boldly in servant leadership as Jesus did. 

Once we submit to His loving command the weight of control is off our shoulders and now we bear a new burden. The burden of bearing one another’s hearts. 

We will have a new strength that is not of ourselves. “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1).

But if we are weak how in ourselves how are we strong? 

The world will tell us it is counterintuitive to think that once we are weak then we are strong. But it is God’s promise and provision that equips the empty vessel and not the pride filled leader who no longer needs guidance. 

We must continually submit to his guidance and love so we may be strong in the Lord. Otherwise we will become arrogant and foolishly think that we are the reason we are a good leader.

Let us ask ourselves this:

How many leaders do we know that led well relied solely on themselves?

Those that truly want to lead realize that they are called and to be called means that we are answering to a higher authority. God’s authority provides us with unlimited guidance and wisdom.

Paul, the apostle who wrote a large part of the New Testament, was one of the most educated men of his day yet he continually sought the Lord for guidance. He suffered hardships and pain; yet he realized that if he relied on his physical strength he would fail.

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

In our weakness, we show others how God can be glorified by our trials, our tribulations, and how we endure when all others lose hope.

In our leadership journey, when we rise and face our greatest leadership challenge. Look upon our reflection and repeat the words:

“I am not my own; I was bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 paraphrase).

When the demons of pride and doubt enter our minds repeat the words:

“No temptation has overtaken me except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear. But when I am tempted, he will also provide a way out so that I can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 paraphrase).

If we are ready to admit that we cannot do this alone; that we cannot stand on our own strength this is when we can receive the power that will never fail us which is the divine leadership of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Embrace Him as leader of our lives each & every day!

God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

There has to be more to life than this-And there is!

There has to be more to life than this-And there is!

While reading the story of the prodigal son to our daughter I had to pause for a moment as I felt God speak to my heart. The story tells us the younger of two sons who tires of the harsh labor of farm life and goes to his father asking for his share of the inheritance now. The father is sad, yet grants his son’s request. 

The son goes and spends all that he has on wild living and is happy for a short time. Then his inheritance runs out and none of his ‘friends’ come to his aid as he is in desperate poverty.

He finds himself alone at the lowest point of his life he has ever been. And the scripture says “Then he came to himself.” This is the moment where he realizes what he had and what he gave up. 
Have you ever been there? 

Have you felt that moment where you realized that all you have done is not worth what you gave up to get there?  

This is a dark and sorrowful moment but THERE IS hope for the broken hearted:

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; 

A broken and contrite heart

You, God, will not despise.”

(Psalm 51:17)

As we read in the story, we can all draw a comparison to the prodigal son in that he realized what he had done.  

As I read this story, I noticed that as the son returns home to ask his father’s forgiveness his father sees him and races out to meet him. He doesn’t condemn him, He doesn’t ridicule him, and surprisingly he throws him a party to welcome him home. Because the Father knows the son’s heart. He knows that he not only is sorrowful for his past but has repented & turned away from what was wrong.

My friends, in life we are guilty of many things but what matters is the state of our hearts. God is patient with each of us and longs for us to “come to ourselves” and return home. 

He is ready to run out to meet you and has made a way home through His son Jesus Christ.  

2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

God is ready for us all to come home. He isn’t mad at us. He loves us and has proven it through the Jesus. I pray that wherever you are, when you come to yourself, realize that you can come home.

God is ready and waiting with open arms…

Andy Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

The T Shirt Firefighter and The Bumper Sticker Christian

The T Shirt Firefighter and The Bumper Sticker Christian

The T-Shirt Firefighter and the Bumper Sticker Christian

It is not uncommon to see a person wearing a T-shirt that indicates they are a firefighter. In many instances, the words or pictures on these T-shirts are not pleasant and are often proclaiming actions this individual isn’t living out. This often angers firefighters who take the craft of firefighting seriously. But what about our faith? Do we take it as seriously as our place in life as firefighters? What about those who wear T-shirts or bumper stickers claiming they are Christians but live a life that is contrary to what God’s word proclaims? Shouldn’t this cause us to pause and reflect on what’s more important?

Perhaps you have heard it said: “I’m not a Christian because they are all hypocrites.” Sadly, this is true for many of us. We claim a belief that we often fail to consistently live out causing more harm to Christianity by our poor examples.

“It is an extraordinary difficulty quality to fake. It is beautiful to see demonstrated in someone’s life. However, it is equally obvious when it is lacking. What is it? It is a healthy, consistent, and balanced faith” (Stephen Arterburn).

Stephen’s word’s ring true that it beautiful to see the love of Christ demonstrated consistently in someone’s life. This in fact, is a living Epistle of God’s handiwork written before the eyes of the world for all to see that God can save, God can transform, and God can do anything in anyone’s life if they will put their trust in Him. 

Make no mistake, this is not a condemnation of those who strive to follow Christ and fall down as most of us do. This writing is for those who claim merely a title and not a relationship with Christ as many of us often fall into this trap. Their belief is only as deep as their devotion. How do I know this? Because this was my life until 2006 when I felt the weight of conviction. The conviction came from the Holy Spirit, showing me that I was leading others astray by claiming a belief that I didn’t truly have. 

For firefighters, we often are angered or frustrated by those who claim to be firefighters but fail to consistently train, improve, or perform well when the call comes in. Yet, we who take such a calling so seriously, often fail to live out the values of our own faith. We find ourselves in an uncomfortable place of self-conviction as we stand in front of the mirror realizing it is we who have failed. 

In our faith we often fail to live out our belief in the following examples: 

We claim Christ, yet we compromise truth, condemn others, criticize, all instead of living out our faith in truth and love…

We claim o be good & dedicated parents; yet the hours we invest in our careers far outnumber the time we spend with our spouses and children…

We claim to love Jesus; yet we fail to consistently do what He says. (Luke 6:46 46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

We claim to be Christians, yet our finances prove we love our possessions more than our creator. Jesus counsels us on the dangers of loving riches more than God. One such example is the counseling of the rich young ruler in Luke 18:22-23 “So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”

We claim to be witnesses of the Gospel, yet we share more gossip & slander than the Good News. This can be seen in our lives where we pray for someone on Sunday and then gossip among ourselves about their concern during the week. We have to remember that when others allow us the privilege to pray for their private concerns that this isn’t an opportunity for us to gossip; it is an opportunity to intercede and strengthen our own prayer life. 

We claim to be saved from our sins; yet our lives reveal a different story of lust, foul language, lies, adultery and more. For myself, the hypocrisy of living a double life was a weight that I could no longer bear. I lived a very rough and perverse life while at work and then would attempt to be the good “godly” man at home. God began to convict me of this and has been slowly hammering away my old behaviors, habits, and things that kept me from being close to Him. 

James reminds us that if we claim something our actions will ultimately reveal our hearts:

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (James 2:14).
Jesus reminds us that if we know Him, love Him, and remain in Him our lives will be living proof of our belief: publicly and privately.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit” (Luke 6:43:44).

In closing, we who claim to know Christ out to be living lives that reflect the depth of our relationship. Therefore, we should all be investing more into our time with Jesus so that when we wake up to face the world that they would see Him in us. Otherwise, if we say we love Jesus yet we act like the secular world we may hear Jesus’ words:

“Why do you call Me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

May we all take the time to strengthen our relationship with the One who loves us so much that “He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16b).
God bless,
Andy J. Starnes

The Ultimate Fire Ground Commander

The Ultimate Fire Ground Commander

The Ultimate Fire Ground Commander: 

Isaiah 43:2 

“When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. 

When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! 

When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you.”

Who is able to:

To stretch the right line, to the right place, at the right time…

To be on point, never missing a cue of a tense situation…

To stay calm no matter the chaos and provide the right words to inspire others…

To mitigate every circumstance with the proper tactic…

To be well equipped and always ready even when others fade…

To have the ladder at the window at just the right moment to make the rescue…

To reach through the darkness and make the grab..

To breathe life back into someone when all hope is lost…

To extricate from an impossible set of circumstances as if the metal couldn’t hold them…

To do all this and never boast, never seek recognition, and prepare to do it all over again…

This is the embodiment of servant leadership. This is an analogy of what God does for us each and every day through Jesus Christ.

If you will let Him, He will take command of your life. He will never lose track of you. He will never forget you. He will always be there for you. And His light will shine though any darkness.

For He has conquered death and defeated the fires of hell.

He is the Ultimate Fire Ground Commander and His name is Jesus Christ. 

Will you let Him take command of your life?
God Bless,

Andy Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

The Furnace of Adversity

The Furnace of Adversity

The Furnace of Adversity: Passing The Tests of Our Lives-

The Lord said, “See, I have refined you, but not like silver: I have tested you in the furnace of adversity.”

Isaiah 48:10

As firefighters we know the value and importance of being tested. We are tested regularly to ensure that our skills stay proficient, we are tested physically by the rigors of the job and the discipline of regular exercise, and we are tested when we have the opportunity for promotion.

A skills or written test is a controlled set of questions in a controlled setting and is nothing like the “furnace of adversity” that we may face in our lives as firefighters. We face stress, unknown variables, and often have to perform under harsh conditions. Though we sometimes fail, each test in our lives builds upon our experience, character, and trust. As a firefighter moves through the stages of their career from rookie to an experienced veteran we are not broken by adversity; we are strengthened by it. 

In all this, we have an example; the One we look to for our strength. One who has already suffered through every adversity that we could ever face. He has been there. He has been persecuted, left alone, and been mocked for doing what is right. 

Have you ever felt this way? So has He, and He overcame!

He held the line and persevered to the end dying on a cross out of His great love for us. His name is Jesus. He is the ultimate model of our calling and the very son of God. Come to him and be strengthened. He will “never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)

Stay the course, pass the test, by holding on to Him.

God Bless,

Andy Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

Who will answer?

Who will answer?

Who will answer?

“The heart of modern firefighting is the ability to go aggressively after a serious fire & extinguish it.” John Norman

In our world, we are tasked with “extinguishing” the worlds problems when in reality we have trouble “extinguishing” our own.

As firefighters, we are meant to go after the problem and not stop till we resolve it.

This mentality, this drive, and this discipline can cause us great heartache when we come upon a problem we cannot solve on our own. We feel helpless & ashamed as if we have failed.

But wait…when others are in need what do they do? 

They call 911! 

When firefighters are in need who do they call? A MAYDAY.

As a culture, we are often afraid or ashamed to call a personal MAYDAY. If you have ever been left alone, felt trapped, or there is no way out; Let me introduce you to the one who never misses a call, “will never leave you”(Hebrews 13:5), and who will always be faithful.

God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are the three in one. The crew that will never leave you.

He is your Holy Father, your friend, and the one who gives you counsel. “Before they call, I will answer. While they are yet speaking, I will hear” Isaiah 64:24 

Don’t be afraid of calling the personal MAYDAY. Our pride should not keep us from getting killed (literally or spiritually). It is our dependence on the one who will never leave us that will make us stronger. 

“Be strong & very courageous”(Joshua 1:7) because God is with you always. “For with God Nothing is ever impossible” Luke 1:37

Stay strong in The Lord!

God Bless,
Andy Starnes 

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries