A firefighter who is positive, energetic, and driven can become discouraged if he or she is in a constant environment of negativity. This effect is even more dramatic if they are having personal problems at home. In our faith we need to remember that in order for the fires of our faith to continue to grow we need to be in an environment that ‘supports combustion.’ As firefighters we have an understanding of how fire behaves. Let us consider for a moment how we can influence our Fire Behavior in a way that is set apart by God. This is to be HOLY.
Holy Fire Behavior
A fire needs fuel, heat, air, and the uninterrupted chemical chain reaction to continue to burn. So as we pursue our calling to love, serve, and lead others on our journey let us remember that we need the following.
To continue on our journey we need fuel to keep our faith burning brightly. Those who are the most passionate can and will experience burn-out if they do not replenish their fuel. Burn-out can be prevented by surrounding ourselves with like-minded individuals who can provide guidance. Our spiritual fuel is the fuel of encouragement. Are we surrounding ourselves with those who encourage us?
#2 – Heat
A fire must continually heat the fuel to pyrolize the material producing the combustible vapors necessary to support combustion. Once we receive encouragement from our ‘fuel,’ we then can provide heat which is the positive reinforcement. Some examples of ‘fuel’ are: training, going to conferences, changing our environment (which may mean changing our station assignment), and developing disciplines that keep us burning with intensity. These developmental disciplines are prayer, study, teaching, service, and continuous improvement.
#3 – Air
Without air our fires will go out! We can stay in the ‘flow path’ of growth by developing relationships with encouraging individuals who seek out the best in us no matter what we are going through. These individuals are recognized by their ability to always speak the right words, at the right time; they also check on us periodically. To have friends such as these is a gift from God and they will lift us up through our phases of burn-out. We need to remember to thank God daily for encouragement from His word, from others, and for the opportunity to provide encouragement to others.
#4 – Uninterrupted Chemical Chain Reaction
This where we as firefighters behave differently than a fire. Everyone needs an interruption every now and then. The fire service should NOT be everything to us; it is a way of life, and our calling but one day we will retire. What then? Is our identity so deeply intertwined with our title that we will lose all hope once we lay down our helmets? NO! The fire service is a huge part of us but we need time away to refocus, recharge, and rest in God’s peace. We are firefighters because of our servant hearts and that can never be taken away from us if we will keep our focus on God.
#5 – Firefighter Rehab
We need to remember that God gave us six days for labor and one day for rest. This was done for our benefit. We can practice this by taking mini-vacations from the fire service and we will find that we are renewed and burning with even more intensity for the calling we are blessed with. We can avoid burn-out by practicing a periodic ‘rehab’ so that our hearts will not grow weary.
By practicing these disciplines we can build our faith as firefighters and lead others in the hope that comes from God. It is never too late and it is never too early to begin this journey. Take a moment and consider the knowledge, skills, and abilities that you have been gifted with. Would you like to take those skills to the next level? Take up God’s training manual and prayerfully study His words. Take comfort in the lives of those who have gone before us and their examples. Let us train ourselves up in the way that we should go by enrolling in God’s training academy. Then as we answer the call of our lives may we apply what we have learned through the opportunities before us. All the while, let us seek out an environment that will support, build, and encourage our faith as we seek to build our faith as the leaders God has called us to be.
Keep the faith!