Developing Leaders in the fire service: Life Role Leadership

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is a sin.” (James 4:17).

In the fire service, we have all witnessed examples of leadership: good and bad. As a young firefighter, your character, habits, and future perspective were all shaped by those around you. Take a moment and remember an experience where you witnessed a role model fail to do the right thing.

In that moment, how did you feel?

What impression did it leave you with?

How has that experience affected your views on leadership?

Wherever you are, whatever role you may be in, there are those that look up to you and watch everything that you do. Whether you realize or not your role in life is in effect leading others by your actions, words, and beliefs. I have heard it said:

“There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the life of a Christian. Most people will never read the first four.”

As leaders in the fire service we must hold ourselves accountable. We must walk in integrity, disciple/mentor, and train others up in the way they should go. If you profess to be a Christian and are in leadership you have found yourself in a position of double accountability. Our words must match our lives because not only have you professed a belief that preaches it you are now teaching others.

If we choose to paint a false picture of ourselves to others we are setting them up for disappointment. As a leader in the fire service you are accountable for the lives of those in your sphere of influence: their well being, their ability to do their job, and for their future.

As a leader more is caught than taught. Those that are in your sphere of influence are watching your daily actions or lack thereof.

Why is this important?

Any confident leader who doesn’t have a solid moral foundation will ultimately fail the organization personally and or professionally. Anyone can learn to be competent in their profession but to be exemplary is to be the one standing up for truth, caring for others, and leading by example (at home and at work).

“Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

We are all ultimately responsible for the future of the fire service. We are accountable for those nearest to us in our sphere of influence. If we are not directly influencing those around us, those within our fellowship, we are failing to act and failing to lead. We are, in a sense, being morally negligent in our duties to others. The greatest understanding that you can comprehend about becoming a leader is that you are responsible for the future of others.

How are you investing in that future right now?

The future of the fire service depends on your current Christian witness.
“The act of Leadership is the basic part of the Christian life (Ken Blanchard)”.

Our lives, our successes and our failures, should be living testimonies of our faith. St Francis said “In all things go and preach the Gospel and if necessary use words”. A firefighter by definition is a civil-servant; ask yourself if your service is reflecting positively or negatively upon the future? The seeds you sow now will reap dividends in the future. We would all do well to perform a leadership values review with a trusted mentor to hold ourselves accountable. Look in the mirror and remember that you have a direct impact upon the next generation of the fire service.

God Bless & Stay safe,
Andy J. Starnes

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