Tag Archives: fires

The T-Shirt Firefighter & the Bumper Sticker Christian

double-oaks-2nd-alarm-full-view-1024x768 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 Forgotten Ones

It is a commonly known fact that those that care for others the most often receive the least care or concern in return…
It is commonly known that those who give the most of themselves, who bear their souls, and lift up others in prayer often suffer in silence with their own struggles of sin and pain…
To those who call out from the depths of despair…
When you have walked through the darkness of your circumstance…
Take a moment and remember thankfully those who were there…
For many laborers make light work of one’s burdens…
Yet too often, when the burden is lifted…
The hurting hearts are healed and the helper is left hurting…
When your pain blinds our perspective where you feel that no one cares…
Stand up, open up our eyes, and see the multitude…
Who have been long standing there…
Standing alongside with those who have felt abandoned…
Shedding tears with the broken and the forgotten…
Praying for those who aren’t aware…
That many are lifting them up in fervent, passionate, and heartfelt prayer…
There are those who hold another’s pain only for a brief moment…
There are those who listen with compassion, intently focused, on the hearts that are broken…
There are those who keep your confidence of your darkest & innermost pain…
There are those who do this, daily, again, and again…
They take that phone call at the worst possible time…
They show up when all hope is lost and everyone has gone…
They hold your hand, hold your heart, and never let go of the line…
They have sacrificed, lost, and often fall ill…
They have done all of this not for fame or fortune…
They have cared deeply because of the love of the One…
The One who gave it all in spite of our sin…
The One who lived, loved, and died, and rose again…
He is the reason that there are those who care so much…
He has changed their heart, enlarged it, and filled it with His love…
They do all these things and more in the name of God’s Son…
They do all of this even though that they are often forsaken, persecuted…
And even though they help those who are lost, they are often the forgotten ones…
We say we “Never Forget”, I challenge you today to Never Forget those who have lifted you up, cared when no one else did, and listened when all others walked away…
Let us not forget those who care enough to “bear one another’s burdens” for they often are bearing great burdens of their own.
God Bless,
Andy Starnes

This is My Fire House

Welcome to my fire house, it is like no other…
Here we answer the call of the needy, the hurting, and bring calm to the chaos…
This is my fire house, a place of provision, security, and accountability all in one…
Here we eat together, pray together, play together, and share our burdens…
This is my fire house, it is like no other for only here can we be real with one another…
Here we fight, argue, and occasionally have times of discord….
This my fire house, four walls that house those who go out to serve the world…
Here we ventilate, open up, extricate, and bring life back to one another…
This is my fire house, where training isn’t optional it’s a part of our life…
Here we read, we discipline, we exercise, and we practice to be prepared…
This is my fire house, it is like no other, for I am responsible for those under its roof…
Here we watch over one another, we take care of one another, and our daily actions are the proof…
This is my fire house, it is like no other for we have good times, dark times, and experience loss…
Here we shed tears, we shed blood and sweat, and remembering those that we have lost…
This is my fire house, a place of solace and peace for those that are blessed to dwell…
Here we speak of heaven, praise God, and together we have been through hell…
This is my fire house, a place of rest for the weary and a place to come home to…
You see this isn’t a fire station filled with trucks and equipment…
This is my home with my wife, my daughter, and the love that fills it…
You may have thought of the fire house with those that you love…
And that is a special place as well, but first remember what we have been given from above…
Remember your family, your spouse, your children and how we respond to them…
Remember their desperate calls for help when they need their dad, their mom, and their friend…
Remember how you train, how you work, and how you would give your life for them…
Remember how no matter when the moment strikes you will always answer the call…
For this is your fire house, the one given to you from above and it should be placed above all…
God has given you a family, those under your care that you are to fight for…
This is our greatest blessing, our greatest calling, and the reason we train so tirelessly for…
This is my fire house, and I will fight the fires of life with those entrusted to my care…
We will train ourselves up in the way we should go and always be there….
This is my fire house, a place of shelter, protection, provision, and peace…
Those that dwell here will respond to each other, to others, and the last, lost, and the least…
For Jesus is our Commander in Chief and we seek his direction daily…
We may fail, we may fall down, but He walks with us through the fires ever so bravely…
He will never leave nor forsake therefore we will stand together through it all…
Knowing that this is my fire house, that He has equipped those within it to answer the call…
God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries.

Your Window of Opportunity 

In our lives, have you ever noticed that we often self impose limitations upon ourselves thereby diminishing our God given capacity? 

We find excuses based on social judgements, our age, our physical characteristics, or we discredit our own intellectual potential. This can occur for a variety of reasons. The following two reasons occur most frequently:

Our environment- One who is passionately pursuing excellence often suffers when their environment is in turmoil, is negative and condemning, and those in our fellowship often shoot arrows at every accomplishment we make.

We believe the lie: Negative judgements imposed upon us can be some of the most destructive agents in our lives. 
We begin to believe statements such as “you are not good enough, smart enough, old/young enough, or there’s no way you could ever do that.” We begin to listen to the voice of doubt and negativity rather than listen to the inner voice within. 

And anyone that offers encouragement to us is greatly appreciated but then we return our focus again on the lie. That we could never achieve our God given potential.

Let us consider the voice of reason rather than the lies and the voice of doubt. God has a specific purpose for our lives and has many opportunities for us along the road of life. 

We often fail to reach this potential when we listen to the world rather than the one who made us. God gave His Son Jesus in the ultimate act of servant leadership to equip us: 

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

God gave us His word to equip us for every good work:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

We have been given the potential, the resources, and the ultimate advocate. We must then look at our lives and determine our window of opportunity.

Young Leaders: Are you young and passionate but people look down upon you because of your age? 

Mature Leaders: Are you in your 40’s, well trained, zealous for your passion but others discredit you?

Senior Advisor: Are you in your 50’s and 60’s and have spent your life learning, training, and educating others? You are a priceless commodity and your wisdom should be shared. Your life experiences are a living testimony that can inspire others

Elder: Are you in the golden years of your life? These years should be cherished and others should be seeking you out for your wisdom that has been earned through trials, loss, hard work, and tribulation.

What window of opportunity is before you right now? 

Will you allow the negativity of others to diminish your passion because they secretly long be like you but lack the courage? 

Will you move forward into the ring while others dwell in the gray twilight of indecision? 

Will you get up after being knocked down and stare adversity boldly in the eye?

We are “more than conquerors” and “in this world we will have tribulation” but “all things work together for good for those who love God” as we know that Jesus has a plan and hope for us if we would “be strong and courageous” enough to follow Christ when others fall away.

God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes

In a Battle? Time to Get to Higher Ground!

In the midst of the storms of this life, have we considered how well we are communicating with the One who controls the winds and the waves? In the middle of the firefight when the flames are raging, how well are we communicating with the Ultimate Incident Commander?
“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me for in you my soul takes refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purposes for me” (Psalm 57:1-2)
There is a battle raging right before our very eyes. Police are being targeted and killed, religious freedoms are being removed, innocent unborn children are being murdered, terrorism is on the rise, and the importance of morals & values are being diminished by many leaders in society. Yet there is an even greater war going on….
“For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12).
The Bible clearly tells us that there IS spiritual warfare going on all around us. For those who believe, we see its effects clearly around us. Yet we also fight a battle within ourselves against our sinful nature. We fight against our own lust, lies, anger, hypocrisy, idolatry, greed, and so on.
“For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Holy Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Galatians 5:17-18).
So how do we fight against this invisible foe along with our sinful nature? Paul reminds us in Ephesians that we should “put on the full armor of God, so that you can be ready to take you stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). However, are we truly ready for battle? The issue isn’t the armor of God in many cases; but whether or not we are communicating and in relationship with the One who is leading the battle.
We must boldly then pray “For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:18) and know that “In Him through faith we approach God” (Ephesians 3:12). This can be hard for many of us. For myself, I feel that my prayers are often hindered not because of God but because of me. I feel unworthy to approach him because of my sins. I forget the great price that was paid for my own sins by Jesus Christ. I have to come once again, boldly yet broken to the foot of the cross and cry out to My Lord having the full confidence that He will hear me not because of what I have done but because of what Jesus Christ has done for all of us.
We can then pray as Paul did that God would “strengthen you with the power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted, and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s Holy people to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-20).
So are ready for battle? Are we willing to put the time in as a good soldier of Jesus Christ? Time in prayer, Time in studying His word, and Time in showing God’s love to a hurting and lost world even if it costs us?
Remember, a solider expects to be attacked, they expect their enemy will come at them. Let us then boldly pray and pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus knowing that He will fight our battles if we will remain in Him.
God Bless,
Andy J. Starnes

The Shortest & Most Powerful Verse

The Shortest & Most Powerful Verse:

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35)

As firefighters, we don’t like to admit that we often hurt. Not just a physical pain from our work but an inner torment. We often push down the emotions from the things we see, the struggles in our own lives, and the stress we experience. Then in one moment, we erupt as if our emotional pressure relief valve gives up. The tears come and they fall like rain. Perhaps, in this moment we could take the time to remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ also shed tears.

Jesus experienced the same emotions that you and I feel. Every one of us has shed tears, tears of joy, and tears of sadness.  We will face trying times and some of these moments will seem impossible for us to deal with.  And as a follower of Christ, the more that we work for Him, the higher position we rise to, the greater the opposition we will face. It is a certainty that has been foretold by Jesus and lived out by Him and all of those who have followed Him.

“If you want to be my follower you must love Me more than your own father & mother, wife, and children, brothers, sisters-yes more than your own life.” (Luke 14:26)

In John 15:18-25 Jesus predicts our coming persecutions:

18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master. ’If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin.  Now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 The one who hates Me also hates My Father. 24 If I had not done the works among them that no one else has done, they would not have sin. Now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened so that the statement written in their scripture might be fulfilled: They hated Me for no reason.

Many of us have fallen away when we have suffered for the sake of Christ but we must remember the words in 1 Peter 4:12-19.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?


And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty,

What will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.”

Every person that we can read about in the Bible struggled, suffered, and wept. Yet, do we realize there is such a thing as tears of joy. The actual chemical composition of tears of sadness and tears of joy are actually different. So when we feel the emotions flood our hearts let us not suppress them let us embrace them and remember:

God counts every one of our tears:

“Thou numberest my wanderings: Put thou my tears into thy bottle; Are they not in thy book?” Psalm 56:8

God Himself has shed tears:

“Jesus wept” John 11:35

God will wipe away our tears:

“4 and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away. “(Revelation 21:4)

The tears of joy and sadness in life will come but let them fall knowing that God the Father counts every one, God the Son has shed tears, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes one day. We can take comfort Jesus was “made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since He himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.” (Hebrews 2:17-18)

We are to remember that this world is the training grounds for heaven. We are made for a higher purpose, predestined for good works, and He will use all things to work together for our good and His glory if we will yet trust in Him. Hold the line, don’t let stop fighting the fires of your life, and remember He is with us though it all.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries



Out of the Flames-Jarret Keith Testimonial

We thank our brother Jarret Keith for courageously sharing his testimony with all of us. Read on for encouragement:

There have been some recent occurrences that have changed my life and I feel the need to share it with all of you. I have recently decided to accept Jesus into my heart again. I accepted him into my heart before and strayed away from the word of God. But this past Friday I was at work at the Fire Dept. Several things occurred that day that really made me mad, upset me, and disgusted me.

That night A broadcast network called CBN happened to be on, so I watched. During the show they talked about several different things, those things they talked about just happened to be everything that happened that day….that’s not coincidence! The Lord reached out grabbed me and shook me through that show.

At the end of the show, the host made this comment, “If there is anyone that doesn’t know Jesus or knows him but needs to let him back into their hearts, please pray with me now and repeat after me.” I did, and it felt like the whole world lifted off my shoulders! I let him back in! (This is the part that gets interesting.) As I said earlier I have asked him to come into my heart before, done right for a little while, then I would get back on the same path I’d been on. (And no not drugs, just attitude, temper, my mouth and not following God and doing what he expects of me.)

This past Monday, I was on shift at the Fire Dept around 1:10 in the afternoon on Monday we were toned out to a structure fire. We arrived on scene and from the outside looked like we could go inside, make a good interior attack and knock it down. Myself and my Lt. put our air packs on and stretched a line to the door and popped the door open. As the door swung open black smoke that banked all the way to the floor started flowing out. As I made entry into the house on the nozzle, I got about half way across the living room and something wasn’t right, it was just too hot, my instincts were telling me to get out (or was it my instincts? Could it have been something or someone else.) I told my Lt. to back out, something wasn’t right and it was too hot. As I came out of the door we sat and watched the smoke for a few seconds to come up with a new game plan.

All of a sudden, about 20 seconds after we backed out a flash-over occurred. the Fire came towards the door and rolled right over the top of mine and my Lt’s head. Jesus had surrounded us with his loving arms and shielded us from that flash-over. Also where the fire was at in that house would have taken us about that long if not a little longer to get to it. If we had kept going and not backed out I would probably not be writing this post right now. We would have been caught right in the middle of the flash-over. Myself and my Lt. are blessed we did not keep going. I firmly believe that what happened Monday was the Lord giving me an example. I feel with all my heart that when that happened he was telling me, “This is why you need me, this is what I can do for you, this is how I can protect you, this is why you do not need to stray away from me again.” I firmly believe he reached out to me on that Friday through the host of a Christian network and then Monday showed me why I need him in my life and my heart through that fire when the flash-over occurred. God gave me another chance and this is where my new life begins!

If this story has inspired you and you would like to know more about how to receive Christ as your savior email us at bringingbackbrotherhood@gmail.com

God Bless,

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Organizational Processes & Firefighter Ethical Performance

Do Organizational Processes Affect Individual Firefighter Ethical Performance?

Clearly, public service ethics has become a very broad and often ambiguous category that sometimes generates controversy as to what constitutes the term” (Zamor, p.1). Yet in the realm of public service, it continues to demand individuals of higher moral character and behavior while failing to produce a consistent example or mechanism of enforcement. Why is this so? One begins to wonder, with all of the emphasis on the individual how much of their ethical performance is determined by the organizational processes or culture?
Let us consider these questions:

• Will the members of higher moral character tire of doing the right thing because the organizational climate is ethically absent? Or ‘if the opportunity presents itself, and the risk of getting caught is low, and if the organization does not foster an ethical climate, then chances are fairly good that corruption will take place” (Zamor, p.6).

• Will a devout religious individual fail ethically if forced to choose between their principles and their paycheck? If socioeconomic pressures continue to remove an individual’s ability to freely communicate their personal beliefs will we see a decline in the profession or in the pulpit?

• Will a compliance based ethical employee fail the organization if not given proper boundaries such as codes of ethics and organizational controls? What if the ethical fence has been well defined but is continually moved for certain individuals in the event of ethical disasters?

Why are ethics important to the fire service?

It has been said that ethics are “the process by which we clarify right from wrong and act on what we take to be right’ (Zamor, p.1). The phrase that grabs our attention is deemed ‘bureaucratic discretion’; wherein the public servant exercises his or her ability to make the proper decisions within the framework of organizational controls and codes of ethics. In firefighter terms, this is when an individual faces down an incident and has to make a decision.

As a firefighter we have our framework, the incident command system, and we understand our response protocols thus knowing our resource capabilities. We size up the problem, formulate the incident action plan, and move into action. On the average, firefighters are statistically consistent in these areas because of the constant training, accountability measures, and the constant practice of these skills.

Yet in the realm of ethical decision making we seem hesitant and treat the decision as if it were a hazardous materials incident. We recognize, notify, identify/isolate, and protect if necessary because we know what we are dealing with may have consequences that outlive us. We sometimes put off making the decision or avoid it altogether which goes against the very nature of firefighters. Thus we return to the title and question of this article: Do organizational processes affect a firefighter’s individual ethical performance? I believe that the individual’s ethical performance is impaired or affected by the organizational processes for three main reasons:

• Claim without consistent conduct.
• Fears of financial loss.
• A lack of organizational controls and codes of conduct.

First, any individual who is employed in an organization that supports ethical behavior in policy but their organization fails to truly exemplify it in its daily actions will be setting the stage for ethical dilemmas. Policies without practice are mere words without meaning. Many organizations fail to recognize the critical nature of an individual’s spiritual beliefs, their impact on their behaviors, and their daily decisions. “An individual’s spirituality is critical to his/her comprehension and perception of ethical behavior” (Zamor, p.6). The prophet Isaiah sums it up well: “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught” (Isaiah 29:13).

And the inherent nature of an individual to ignore the code of conduct is explained well here:
‘Operational enforcement structures and procedures’ hence end up taking ‘the form of elegant plaques that are hung on the office walls and thereafter ignored. They may be quoted on ceremonial occasions, but never taken seriously enough to use in assessing the conduct of individual members” (Zamor, p4).

In firefighter terms, the organization’s member’s talk must match its talk. In all of the research it comes back to integrity. “It is the public servant’s internal moral character and individual conscience that is critical in ensuring that actions are ethical and are in line with the ethics codes, and that they are carried out with integrity and morality. Carl Friedrich (1935) stated that internal control and individual conscience are the core of ethical behavior and standards in the public service.” (Zamor, p.4). In short, if those who create the policies fail to follow the policies it breeds apathy and anarchy. Its members will stop believing in them and they will have lost all credibility.

Secondly, individual ethical performance is often compromised for financial reasons. Many employees have failed to speak up on matters of principle, unfair treatment, or other issues for fear of losing their job. An organization that persecutes those who stand up for their beliefs has gained compliance through fear and intimidation.

Lastly, we come to the compliance based ethical individual. The policies, procedures, and general statutes are specifically for these individuals and without them they would wander off. “Left to their own, some public servants may engage in selfish behavior. This is where external controls like rules and regulations, penalties and punishments that impose constraints on the conduct of public servants find usefulness” (Zamor, p.6).

Many departments fail to publish their code of ethics and S.O.G’s believing that they are common sense. These departments fail to be proactive and often react by writing a policy based upon an ethical breech. Thus the “Your name here-S.O.G.” is born. Each time an ethical dilemma is faced a new policy is written and each year the policy book grows thicker and the offenses continue. An organization must endorse, train, and educate its employees on its policies and processes. ‘When ethics training is successful, employees become aware of ethical choices and have the knowledge and resources to choose and carry out the right choices’ (Zamor, p.8).

Despite the organizational processes that may impact individual ethical performance “ultimately, public service ethics depend on the individual conscience of the public servants and the organizational constraints that may take the form of rules and regulations, codes of conduct, organizational process, structures, and culture” (Zamor, p.8). The ethical performance of the individual resides with the individual but the organizational processes can be a test of one’s moral character. The power of petition is based upon the depth of the relationship thus the ethical performance of an employee is based upon the depth of their conscience and beliefs. An individual will do the ‘right thing’ in the difficult moments if their values are deeply rooted. Such “values are formed long before people enter public service” (Zamor p.8).

Another process that is critical to individual ethical performance that is often overlooked is the hiring process. Each organization would do well to conduct more research to discover if the person’s ethics they are about to hire truly align with the values of the department. Some employers are already using Emotional Quotient Testing in their hiring processes. Certain departments are using these processes with great results. One department that was interviewed currently use a service called Zero Risk HR for Emotional Intelligence Pre-employment Assessment (http://www.zeroriskhr.com/). This is another type of organization control to insure the department is hiring those who value align with the organization. Chief Dennis Rubin, states it well in his class “How not to hire idiots, thugs, and misfits.”

“It would be interesting to “dollarize” all of the costs associated with the discipline process that a department spends during a single year. Some examples are the personnel needed to investigate bad behaviors; the time and effort to document same; the cost to consult with outside agencies such as police or attorneys; if a member is suspended or terminated, calculate the replacement overtime costs; the aspect of spending time with the media explaining the situation and so on.” (Dennis Rubin)

In conclusion, the ethical performance of an individual can be affected by organizational processes but it is ultimately up to the individual’s values. These processes are in the news daily such as ‘Firefighters vote no confidence in Fire Chief’, “Former employee alleges firing was based on her whistle blowing efforts”, and “Firefighter fired for social media post.” The examples given in this article show how the informal cultural processes of an organization can affect an individual’s ethical performance. The fire service would be wise to begin to evaluate the organizations ethical performance regularly, train employees on proper ethical behaviors, and continually monitor the health of the organization by the ethical behaviors of its members.

Works Cited:

Casey, Michael P. (2007) Emotional Intelligence for Emergency Service Leaders.
Retrieved from: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo40416.pdf

Genevieve Enid Kyarimpa & Jean-Claude Garcia-Zamor (2006): The Quest for Public Service Ethics: Individual Conscience and Organizational Constraints, Public Money & Management, 26:1, 31-38
Rubin, Dennis. (2012). How not to hire idiots, thugs, and misfits. Fire Rescue1 magazine. Retrieved from: http://www.firerescue1.com/fire-department-management/articles/1377396-Hiring-plan-How-not-to-hire-idiots-thugs-and-misfits/

The Cultivation of Character

Ever noticed that people will stand up for just about anything except for their faith? Why is this so?

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

The courage to face adversity and opposition is one of the most difficult types of courage to cultivate. For it often only grows through the challenges of adversity. Faith, like our bodies, must be exercised regularly to stay ready and able.

As firefighters we risk our lives daily in numerous ways yet when it comes to having the moral courage to speak up for our beliefs we often shy away from the task. If we are honest, more of us are more fearful of being labeled rather than being known as a follower of Christ.

What is Moral Courage?

“The ability to do right in the face of opposition or discouragement.” Pastor Greg Laurie

To face the enemy known as fire we take a “calculated risk” based on our training, conditions, and resources available. Yet when we are faced with a moral dilemma we should remember to make our decision based on our faith, our core values, and the ever present truth in God’s word. We should remember our spiritual training.

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8

To have moral courage is to “stand firm in the faith” no matter the opposition personally, professionally, and politically.

In order to develop this characteristic, one must sincerely believe. They stand firm, not because of their own strength, but because of their hope in Christ. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

The challenge lies before us is no easy task:

Let us be clear and speak the truth in love. When we are confronted, persecuted, or ridiculed because of our faith do not speak to them as they did to us. Remember, Jesus is our example. When he was mocked, cursed, spit on, and persecuted He did not respond with anger but with love.

This is the mark of true courage: To respond to hate with love, to answer ridicule with wisdom, to turn the opposition into a conversation, and to lead a conversation into a relationship.

The world may hurt us, betray us, but we can have hope that Jesus didn’t let that stop Him from loving us. He loved through the hurt.

Let’s pray that God will give us the courage to love others even when they hurt us. May His words be on our lips and may His strength be in our spirit for we cannot stand on our own without you O God.

We stand together in this fight with truth and suffer only because we trust in a God who has already won the victory for us. The Battle is won, we must trust and pray as we are being developed for a higher purpose.

And when we see our fellow brothers & sisters standing firm in the faith let us come along side them. Let’s support them when they are ridiculed. Let’s lift them up and encourage them to stay true to their faith in Jesus Christ.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries

Chain of Command-Going Straight to the Chief

In the fire service, we follow the ‘chain of command’ in which we communicate to our immediate supervisor. We follow this out of respect and out of the knowledge we are not allowed to go directly to the Chief without representation. In our lives, we sometimes feel we cannot go to God with our troubles. We feel unworthy and that the distance between our hearts and God is too far.

Let us consider for a moment what Jesus did for us:

In the Old Testament, the Israelite’s were not permitted to approach ‘The Most Holy Place’ which is where God would meet with the High Priest. Only the High Priest could do so once a year on the day of the atonement to make sacrifice for the sins of the nation. This Most Holy Place was between two Cherubim over the atonement cover on the Ark of the Covenant. (See Exodus 25:22). This place was within the tabernacle and was separated by a veil.

In Matthew 27: 50-51, Through Jesus’ death we see how He made a way for us to go directly in the presence of God. The veil that separated us from the Most Holy Place was torn.

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

As believers in Jesus, we no longer need to wait on someone to represent us. Jesus has done so on our behalf. The veil was torn, removing the barrier between us and God, so we may approach God with confidence.

In firefighter terms, we can walk right in to the Chief of the department’s office and talk to him face to face. We don’t have to call anyone else or ask permission. Through Jesus Christ we “may approach with confidence” and talk with God.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter ‘The Most Holy Place’ by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, opened up for us through the curtain, that is His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God let us draw near to God with a sincere heart.” Hebrews 10:19-20

Take a moment and remember what God has done for all of us. He has removed all the barriers and made a way for us to freely approach Him because of the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. We can freely approach Him and we do so with a grateful heart.

Our gratitude is expressed in the knowledge that we could have never crossed this veil without Christ.

Let us give thanks today and lift up our voice to God! He will hear our cries because Christ has made it possible for all those who believe. He has broken down all the barriers and nothing stands in our way of communicating the deepest desires of our heart.

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries