Reigniting the fire within you…
Perhaps you have been a member of the fire service for sometime now. Throughout your journey you have experienced much. Firefighters often boast about their seniority and their amount of experience. Yet we hardly ever hear of one boasting of their experiences such as: pain, loss, tragedy, divorce, health issues, depression, and the general trials of life.
On average a firefighter gives 1/3rd of his/her life in service to others. In a profession that answers the call of the hurting, the helpless, and the lost; our eyes capture images that can become scars upon our souls. We value servant hood, dedication, and sacrifice yet we can become weary when our efforts are ridiculed, opposed, and we feel unappreciated. The demands of the job combined with the weariness of our hearts over the years can extinguish the brightest passion of any firefighter.
One who serves others and is constantly near them in their last moments seldom walks away unscathed from these experiences. In these low points of our lives we tend to dwell there for far too long. Grief and sorrow are natural to feel but they are not meant to be our permanent address. Jesus said
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world” John 16:33
How does one stay passionate to their calling when the world continues to wear us down? How does a firefighter who has burned-out reignite their fire?
How does a firefighter who is a follower of Christ stay encouraged, stay passionate, and endure through the dark times of their life?
n order for us to keep our fires lit for Christ we need to be surrounded with believers (brothers & sisters) who can support us. In the fire service, we need to surround ourselves with passionate, dedicated, and encouraging members who can keep our fires burning throughout our careers.
A spiritual principle that has tremendous value in this application is the MED principle. In life, to continue to grow we need a Mentor, an Encourager, and a Disciple (Student). This comes from the lives of Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy.
In the Christian life you need a:
Paul- A mentor, wise counsel, and or a guide on life’s journey
Barnabas- An Encourager, one who is always there for you and lifts you up.
Timothy: A disciple- Someone to teach, guide, and counsel with the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding you have gained on your journey.
As firefighters, the value of having a mentor is priceless. One who comes along side of a probationary firefighter and “trains them up in the way they should go” is sowing seeds the future of the fire service. This application can be positive or negative. As followers of Christ, we should always be on the look out to mentor others in the proper way and “work as we are working for the Lord” so that our example will inspire others. The Bible is full of examples of positive mentors who led others and counseled them along the way.
Consider Moses’ father in-law who cautioned him in taking on too heavy of a burden. He warned against trying to handle the matters of 2 million people by himself. In other words, he taught him the first span of control lesson and thereby implemented the first Incident Command System. Moses divided the groups of people up and appointed leaders to handle their small matters and only was involved in larger more complicated issues.
As firefighters, in order for us to stay accountable, to stay teachable, and to continue to grow it is imperative that we seek out fellow like-minded fire service mentors. God’s principles apply cover our entire lives. As we seek out mentors in the fire service, we should have Christian mentors or maybe your blessed to have a fire service mentor who is a devoted Christian as well? These individuals will help us to grow, give us the constructive criticism when we need it, and will teach us by their example.
The Barnabas Principle:
The name Barnabas literally means son of encouragement. It is when we reach the dark moments of our lives hanging off a cliff of a bad decision only then do we realize the value of encouragement. A firefighter can easily become discouraged by numerous factors and circumstances along their journey.
These factors can be compounded when combined with numerous other stressors. Studies have shown that firefighters are under significantly more stress than most occupations. Firefighters are at a statistically higher risk of suicide, anxiety (PTSD) and depression, divorce, alcoholism, and various medical problems (heart attack and cancer).
With the statistical deck of dark cards seemingly stacked against us it is vital that a firefighter should seek out fellow brothers or sisters who are encouragers. These friendships are profoundly important. In life there will be hard times, difficulties, and valleys so we must be about the business of investing in our relationships to encourage one another. As we each reach these moments, through the bonds of brotherhood we can “mutually encourage on another” through these dark times.
The application of this principle is to put ourselves in places where we can be encouraged such as: accountability groups (life groups, study groups, a regular meal with a trusted friend to share our burdens or concerns, and staying active in places that encourage us: our church, our family, and our community). Firefighters can receive timely encouragement from going to conferences, joining and being active in other encouraging organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Firefighters.
The Timothy Principle:
The fire service will always be a profession of continual learning, training, and education. It is a part of the identity of the fire service. The citizen calls for help and the firefighters respond no matter what the emergency may be. This implies that firefighters have to be ready for anything so their learning must be continuous.
How does one stay ahead of the learning curve? How does a firefighter continue to evolve, grow, and improve throughout their journey?
It is by the principles taught to us in making Disciples. The process of Discipleship is about and going forth and sharing what you have learned: The Good News of Jesus Christ! A follower of Christ who is dedicated to prayer, study, worship, and service will be constantly about the business of growing closer to God. This is a discipline that translates across into our daily lives.
It has been said that one hour of teaching is equal to four hours of preparation. Therefore to share what we have learned from our Mentor (Paul), fueled by the fires of Encouragement by our Barnabas, we must then take seriously the gift we have been given by learning, applying, and teaching it to those we Disciple. As we Disciple and teach others it reinforces our beliefs, our values, and strengthens the power of our faith. As you teach others in the fire service, you are given a divine opportunity to influence them with your wisdom, knowledge, and encourage them. In these moments of instruction and fellowship, God often opens doors to the hearts of those who are seeking knowledge. As Instructors and Disciple-makers, each of us should pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to be alert for those divine appointments to share the Good News with our brothers and sisters.
Consider each of these principles of as a model to help you on your journey through life. Our God is a God of relationship and we were not meant to be alone. It is so important to Him that Jesus Christ died on a cross so that we could have a relationship with Him through His Son. So “as you are going” about your journeys invest in the relationships of others. Seek out mentors, encouragers, and “train others up in the way that they should go.” God’s word tells us that “iron sharpens iron” so let us stay sharp through the brotherhood that has been offered to us and continue to keep our fires burning brightly.