Calling someone a Christian leader should naturally come with the assumption that they will lead ethically, unfortunately there is temptation everywhere. We all have the ability to justify any action we take, whether right or wrong; the devil is always at work to throw us off course. The Josephson Institute lists twelve rationalizations that people will use justify not making good ethical decisions: “1. It’s necessary, 2. if it’s legal, it’s okay, 3. it’s part of the job, 4. if it’s for a good cause, 5. doing it for someone else, 6. fighting fire with fire, 7. it won’t hurt anyone, 8. everyone’s doing it, 9. it’s okay if I don’t gain from it, 10. I’ve got it coming, 11. I can still be objective and 12. it’s creating necessity.” No mater how we try justify our actions, when we violate the trust of our people, we have lost the one thing that is hard to get back; their respect. If we think about what happened on “Wall Street” and compare the rationalizations listed, it is easy to see how things got out of control and greed took over. We must guard against temptation at every turn and stay vigilant against the pressures of world around us.
Romans 13:12 – “…let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
The “deeds of darkness” can be those things that we consciously do and those things that we do or think unconsciously. As Christians, we are under attack by the devil everyday; he’s trying to win us over from God. Remember how he tempted Jesus by offering him the riches of the world and how did Jesus respond? He used scripture to rebuff those temptations. God has given us everything we need in His word through the bible. If we have the word on our hearts and in our minds, we will know what to do when the urge to justify our actions starts to rise up. When we put on “the armor of light” we can hold our heads high and confidently look at ourselves in the mirror and smile knowing we did the right thing; even when it was hard to do. In the long run, people will respect you for acting ethically despite how they may initially respond. The struggle is daily but our armor will keep us protected.
I mentioned earlier this week that I submitted an article on automatic aid to the International Association of Fire Chiefs. For my non-fire service readers, automatic aid is when two or more fire departments respond to emergencies in each others communities without having to be specially requested. It is an awesome concept in the Phoenix Valley where regardless of the name on the truck, if you need help, the closest truck will be there. Talk about customer service! All 26 agencies participate equally protecting 3.9 million people in 2,036 square miles.
I start to get a little heart burn when local government starts using the phrase “do more with less”. I’m finding out pretty quickly that it simply isn’t possible. You can do less with less or you can do what you did but not as well with less but not more. The federal government shows us that as they continue to trim billions of dollars we, the average citizens, don’t really see or feel it. The bigger you get the less efficient you are. Think about your waist line, the bigger you get the less you can do without a little strain. You can also starve yourself resulting in malnutrition and simply move through your day not being exceptionally productive and just getting by. A number of federal agencies have duplicated efforts to serve the same population need but local government is, by its nature, not able to grow that big or be that inefficient. Elected Officials at the local level hold the purse strings a little tighter than congress does – thank God!
My point is this, we can’t do more with less and it may be time for the fire service to stop pretending that they can. Automatic aid can help fill the gaps on emergencies but can we do more together on other levels? Can we partner in administrative functions? If we can’t, perhaps its time to start talking about what we can’t do anymore because we have less instead of trying to hold on to what we have always done. There are always efficiencies to be found, that was all done a couple of years ago. Now we’re faced with trying to sustain a 40″ waist on a 32″ budget; you can only suck it in for so long before you blow the button off and kill someone.
Before I climb aboard my soapbox in the next post, lets take a trip to the old fashion boom box. A colleague of mine and supporter, Jason Hoevelmann has created a new blog that will take you down memory lane at Http://lifeinmusic4u.blogspot.com. Jason is reflecting on those old songs that we all loved and is applying them to today with an interesting perspective. Jason, a fellow fire officer, is sure to bring back some memories. On to the topic at hand…
I’d like to start by thanking everyone who sent me comments or posted here. Your support has been awesome. We added two links this week to area writers – Olivia Tejeda and Michael Bradley. They each write something different and have been a big help to me, please check out their web pages on the “Links” page.
My first week with a blog didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I’ve planned time into my schedule to writing here and in my book. You know what they say about the best laid plans? As the Chairperson of our local Public Safety Retirement Board, I spent time learning the new amended regulations and reading the Arizona Revised Statues – not the most exciting reading I must admit. Our public safety professionals are pretty young as it relates to retirement, so we haven’t had a need to do much work in the past. As we age, injuries have started to creep up and the “older guys” are starting to retire. Its hard to believe that I’m now an “older guy”. Our job is to administer the requirements of the law for our members. In this case, thank God for lawyers. I spent the rest of the week writing my next article for the IAFC on Automatic Aid. Stay tuned for a post on that by the end of the week.
Does your workforce get the chance to see you regularly and what do you leave behind as you depart? There is an old theory called the Seagull Management Theory – you fly in, leave droppings everywhere, and fly out. When was the last time you caught someone doing something right – and said something to them? Your workforce needs to hear from you, see you and be connected to you. Put your dwelling place among them. You don’t have to move your office and become a permanent fixture but become a “regular” in their space. You should strive to reach a point that when they see you, its not a cause for concern and they feel comfortable having you around. Walk among them, catch them doing things right and build unity of purpose. You’ll be amazed to see the results of a team built around the same purpose.
Leviticus 26:11-12 “ I will put my dwelling place among you… I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.”
The Leviticus verses are telling us that God intends to dwell with us, walk among us and be our God. It’s saying “God will lead you through it all, get used to Him because He’s not leaving, He’ll live with you, walk with you and never leave your side. God will be here for the good and bad times, you can count on Him – He is your God. We are His people today because we believe; we see His actions daily and feel His presence. Does your workforce believe in you?
Management By Walking Around is far more effective than the seagull management theory. Build a strong relationship by being present and engaged. You’ll find that the view from the ground is better than the view from above.
The old saying that chaos breeds discontent is very appropriate when it pertains to morale. In these economic times many people are leading as though “these people should be grateful they have a job, that’s the only morale they need to worry about”. The top employers remain on top because they remember who is on the front lines with their customers; unhappy employees have a direct impact on customer service. Some believe that keeping the peace means coddling people, they are dead wrong! Peace keeping can be multi-focused; it’s not always about benefits. Good supervisors offer coaching, provide developmental opportunities and encourage teamwork as a way to create a peaceful environment. Employees that are encouraged by their work, as Maslow told us, tend to perform at higher levels which often results in greater satisfaction and customer service excellence. Many managers will say that “our employees are our greatest asset” but when it comes to helping them be productive and happy; they are just another asset. As a leader, our job is to work with the employees toward a common goal. We all will work smoother and happier with a little order, routine and consistency, the opposite of chaos.
1 Corinthians 14:33 – “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…”
God does not want us to live in disorder and chaos. Jesus Christ, His son, was known as the Prince of Peace. Jesus was a great reconciler for us; bringing us to peace with God our Father. Jesus taught us to be humble, loving and forgiving of one another. These are all synonymous with peace. God does not want us to live in fear but be loving and forgiving toward each other with the knowledge of everlasting life with Him through Jesus Christ. There is no greater display of peace but to promise ever lasting life in heaven with God our Father and His son, Jesus Christ. Now that’s peace! The disorder we see around us today is not created by God, it is the temptation to turn away and believe in our own power rather than rely on our God of peace.
Many of my close friends know that I have a very strong faith and that I’m not a “bible thumper” going around quoting bible verses. So don’t freak out that all you’ll hear about is the Word. This blog will be a number of things for a number of people. We’ll talk about fire service subjects, what I’m working on and if I’m lucky, where I am. I’ve been able to travel around the country the past two years and have seen a lot of amazing places and some not so amazing. So please, keep coming back and see what I’m up to.
Never in a million years did ever expect to be on the internet, blogging for that matter, and being paid to write. I used to say that I hard enough time speaking english let alone writing it. Over the years I’ve found myself writing technical reports, research papers and a number of workplace action documents; all of which has led to this moment. I started giving writing tips and advice to co-workers so that I could read their reports and help them grow professionally. It was all a matter of fact and just part of my job, until now.
I have been blessed with an awesome career that gave me experiences and stories that need to be shared. In 2009, following a career ending injury, a very successful spinal surgery and recovery, I faced an uncertain future – after 27 years, firefighting was no longer an option. What would I do for the rest of my life? My daughter’s confirmation verse was how needed to live my life. “For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
My personal experience has taught me a lot about trusting God’s plan. I’m still having doors open for me today that were not even visible a few months ago. It’s still a great experience and I want to share it with as many people as I can. My intent with this blog is to post a weekly devotional of sorts, something that connects leading and managing to the Word of God. I’ll also post things about fire service related activities and the number of projects that I’m involved from FEMA, The U.S. Army and government consulting.
I told a very close friend of mine, someone who’d given me advice throughout my career, that my mental “retirement” journey was so crazy that I should write a book about it. How many times have we all heard that?! Out of the blue, writing opportunities started to come my way. You’ll see on the technical writing page the work that I’ve done which has been published. Over the past two years I’ve been working on telling a story that based on my life and experiences not because they are special but because I’m an average guy who’s had very unusual experiences. My intent is write a “story” about my own experiences with death, destruction and how those things that seem unrelated are, in fact, connected to each other. I hope that I’ll inspire others as they work on a relationship with God in which sometimes we’re close and sometimes we’re not; that’s why it’s called work.