The fire service is one of America's great institutions. The men and women that fight fires and provide emergency medical care to our citizens are some of the bravest and most caring people in our communities. I was blessed to be a firefighter/paramedic having retired in 2010 after 20 years 7 months of service. As a Christian, there are three lessons that I have learned that have helped me have a better relationship with Jesus Christ and others.
Tradition can be a bad word in church. It can mean family pews and the lack of growing, but it was Paul that penned:
2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
In the fire service, there is always a "salty" firefighter and/or paramedic that has "been there and done that." They had been taught the traditions of the fire service by the previous generation. Many of these traditions help firefighters maintain their identity, but also how to work in a paramilitary organization. The good traditions created discipline. The traditions that created division among the crew were disposed of.
In the church, the Apostle Paul warned of us traditions of men, but their are traditions taught by our elders that will give us boundaries while creating discipline. These include maintaining Jesus in our lives in a dark world. These traditions may not be black and white within the scripture, but are sound advice in a declining culture.
2. Take care of problems internally
In the firehouse, there are a crew of men and women that have been placed together. Many start off as strangers, but often form a life long bond. As a crew member, you must trust all the others on your crew. Your life is in their hands. Therefore, most problems are handled within the firehouse and not taken to the command officers outside the stations. Personality conflicts require grace and mediation within the four walls of the firehouse.
In the church, we need to learn to handle our differences with grace and mercy. Temper tantrums, threats and leaving the church creates division and breaks down trust. Jesus said, "But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." This may be difficult, but essential as it shows the very love of Jesus.
3. Willing to Sacrifice
When a firefighter receives a medal for valor in the line of duty, they will often say, "I'm just doing my job." That same firefighter and paramedic has placed their lives on the line many times prior to receiving an award. Each shift and every call could be their last. Their willingness to sacrifice their lives and bodies is a accepted part of the job. They stand between life and death for the people that live near their firehouse.
The church "stands in the gap" between heaven and hell for this world. We must be willing to sacrifice their finances, time and effort to reach the lost. We cannot expect a pat on the back or accolades from man, but receive our reward from our Heavenly Father. Like a firefighter, we must be driven and desperate to reach through the fire and pull our family, friends and neighbors from eternal damnation.