Tag Archives: integrity

Why Suffering?

Why Suffering?

Have you ever suffered at the hands of another? 

Have you been ridiculed, slandered, and belittled for no reason other than the individuals ability be hateful?

Have you felt anger well up inside your soul? 

Have you felt the need to respond in a physical or verbal way that brings resolution to your own personal injustice?

In these moments, it is the greatest challenge that our principles will face. In the moment when we are attacked, if we choose to respond as they do then are we any different?

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for Him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” Philippians 1: 28b-30

How does one conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel when our hearts are in anguish? 

If we ‘repay anyone evil for evil'(Romans 12:17), are we on the road to becoming the very person that has injured us? Have we ever considered why people lash out in the first place? 

Have we considered why so many attack good people and those good people suffer greatly? 

Reflect on these questions for a moment:

Who do we claim to be? 

Do we claim to be followers of Christ? 

Do we claim to be loving husbands/wives, loving fathers/mothers, and loving members of our community?

Do we claim to be good firefighters?

What is the litmus test to judge whether we are who we say we are?

If we react in anger on the road, with a christian and fire service sticker on our car, what judgement do others make about our actions in that moment?

If we ‘repay evil for evil’ in our moments of anguish and the world broadcasts our incident and sits in judgement upon our actions; what do we think they will determine about the sincerity of our faith?

If our anger controls us and we right the wrongs committed against us; how does our actions affect a young aspiring leader who has been carefully studying our lives?

Jesus reminds us of the higher call placed upon our lives:

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:46)

The challenge before us is in the depth of our devotion. How quickly we will fail in the fiery moments of torment if our devotion to God is shallow and insincere. The Apostle Paul wrote about suffering for God many times in his letters. He didn’t merely write words for us to follow. He wrote out of his great suffering. This is one example of his suffering, yet he stood firm: 

“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

Paul obviously suffered greatly for his faith, but consider what he was called to do. He was called by God to go and preach the Gospel. 

What are we called to do? 

Have we forgotten of all the leaders who have gone before us? 

Did they not face great opposition, persecution, and adversity? 

They suffered because they knew the goal was worth the cost. They took their eyes off worldly comforts and realized the impact of their daily actions would pay generational dividends.  

Let us remember that our conduct reflects our conscience and our daily walk shows who we truly are. 

The true test of one’s character is not during fair weather but when the storms of opposition rain down. It is then that we see those who are superficial and not strong. It is then when we see how strong our faith truly is. So let us remember:

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” Philippians 1:27-28

God Bless,

Andy J. Starnes

Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries 

#Firefighter Foundation’s

The foundation of a house is the most important part. Without a proper foundation the house will collapse. Your future, your family’s future, and the future of the fire service are dependent on building upon a solid foundation.

Ask yourself these questions:

What foundation is currently being laid for the future houses of fire service leadership?

Or are they building without a foundation at all?

What principles, morals, and values do they hold fast to?

“But the one, who has heard and not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of the house was great.” (Luke 6:49).

Why is this important?

An intelligent leader who doesn’t have a solid moral foundation will ultimately fail the organization, their family, and those around them personally and or professionally. They will be found manning the life boats alone while the entire organization goes down with the ship.

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).

How do we do this?

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

Integrity is a word that is often misused. It means to hold fast to your beliefs and values no matter the circumstance, the consequence, or the audience. In other words, you consistently apply your beliefs and values day in and day out no matter what. This requires a greater courage than facing down the flames of the greatest inferno.

Have we become so politically afraid due to the media that we dare not speak up for our beliefs anymore? St Francis said “In all things go and preach the gospel and if necessary use words.” Our very lives, actions, and behaviors should speak volumes about our beliefs long before we ever speak a word. Your dedication to God, your family, and to your calling as a firefighter should all be a part of this visible ‘witness’ to the world.

In a profession that prides itself in team work, sacrifice, service before self, camaraderie, integrity, courage, and honor we should be about the business of maintaining these foundations. Where is it that the traditional fire service values originated from? Where they from man? Where they from a government?

Consider this:

“The character of Jesus has not only been the highest pattern of virtue but the strongest incentive in its practice and it has exerted so deep an influence that it may be honestly said that a simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the dispositions of philosophers combined”

These words were not written by a pastor, a theologian, or a journalist. They were written by an Atheist, W.E.H. Lechey, who recognized the greatness of Christ and His influence on mankind. If a non-believer understood this by studying the life of Jesus, how much more should our lives be making an impact in the world around us?

How much more as believers should you and I take to heart the teachings of Jesus? We should be moving mountains in His name and sharing His love every day.

The mountains that we move are the mountains of negativity, immorality, despair, hopelessness, and the unbelief. You make a difference each and every day by standing on the rock of your foundations in Christ.IMG_5079.JPG

What’s more important: Role or Rank?

A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” – John Maxwell

If you have ever asked yourself “What difference can I possibly make? I am just a ________. Let’s begin by examining your motives before you look at your position or circumstance.

It has been said if you want to know God’s purpose for your life: find your greatest passion + the needs of the world equals your starting point.

While on this journey, it is inevitable there will be those who to try to hurt or weaken your passion. Those individuals that attempt to diminish your self-worth by pointing out your inadequacies are nothing more than critics without cause.

They use words such as: eat up, over-driven, crazy, and obsessed to describe what they really see as dedication. It unnerves them & makes them uncomfortable to see someone who truly cares. It causes them realize their poor work ethic and they respond with disparaging comments. It also causes them to look deeply in the mirror and they don’t like what they see.

On a deeper level, they don’t like to see others succeed in areas that they had secretly wished they had the determination to do what you are doing today.

Let’s look at two examples of the value of one individual who chose to make a difference:

One man took the time to share the Gospel with a young dairy farmer who later went on to preach the Gospel to millions across the globe. That young farmer is now known as Rev. Billy Graham.

In over 55 years of ministry, Billy Graham has preached the Gospel message to more than 215 million people in over 185 countries around the world. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which he founded in 1950, reaches out to millions more each year through radio and television broadcasts, films, literature, training, events, and the Internet. (Billy Graham Library).

One man chose to lead a few ill-equipped, uneducated, and lower class men. He taught them and loved them in spite of great opposition.

His passionate journey ultimately cost Him His life. His name is Jesus Christ.

Those few men that He discipled went on to change the world. A church of a few believers has grown to 1/3 of the world’s population. His love lives on today in the hearts of those who believe.

Your current role is very important (wherever you may be) and you are there for a reason.

Reflect on this and begin to look for opportunities to encourage, mentor, and teach others while you are learning as well.

Remember, that your significance is not tied to your salary or your title.

Your value is in how you influence others around you as you grow, learn, and change the world one person at a time.

Think of it, you may be influencing, educating, or helping the next innovator/leader of our age. Now, take what you have been given and make it count.

Whether you realize or not, you are laying the groundwork for someone else’s future. So get up, live what your believe, and be an individual of integrity.

The future is depending upon your role not your rank.