Just today, I read about two house fires that killed eight people, six of which were small children. And these are just the ones I know about; I’m sure there were many more. That’s why I HATE house fires, and every other firefighter should hate them too. They should hate them so much, that they will do everything in their power to prevent them. This means the job is more than training and waiting on the next call. Our job is not only to extinguish fires, but to prevent them. All of us, not just the prevention folks or the fire marshals; all fire department personnel are responsible fire prevention, period. All firefighters should hate house fires and hope they never go to another one.
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”
-President Abraham Lincoln, from a Proclamation for National Fast Day, April 1863
Thank you to the men and women of the Taylors Fire District for allowing me to speak during their Christmas dinner.
I don’t have a Netflix subscription, nor have I ever watched anything produced by Netflix, but this morning while scrolling through my Twitter feed, someone shared this article: One Reason For Netflix’s Success — It Treats Employees Like Grownups. The title caught my attention, so I clicked through. This article hit home for me; it is right on point about how to create a work culture that takes care of employees and the business. The more I learn about leadership, the more I struggle with how to deploy these business practices into a government setting. Most government agencies will never get this right, because our answer to every new employee problem is to create a new policy. I hope you read the article and take time to look through the Netflix slide show that explains their culture. It’s good stuff.
Fox News – “Atlanta Fire Chief: I was fired because of my Christian faith”
That headline did not shock me. This is only a glimpse of what’s to come for American Christians; it will get worse before it gets better, you can bet on that. The details of this story are still emerging, and it may drag out for months and maybe years if the chief pursues a wrongful termination case. I am not sure I would want to work for an employer who treated me like that, but I would want the true story to be told. So I encourage the chief to fight the good fight wherever it leads him, all the while, finding encouragement in the fact that God is sovereign and He directs our paths and the paths of government leaders (whether they acknowledge it or not). God will be glorified.
The war is not against religion, we see that clearly by the headlines. The war is against Christianity. The followers of the newest religion, “political correctness,” see any Biblical truth claim as an attack. Christians should arm themselves with an apologetic that engages the world and furthers the Gospel. If I was asked, “Jason, is homosexuality wrong?” I would have to respond with the question, “Is anything wrong?” Let’s start there.
Will I be ready when the fight comes to my front door? Romans 8:31 comes to mind, “…if God is for us, who can be against us?”
I gave this talk at the Fairfield County Volunteer Appreciation dinner on May 9, 2014.
This is a question all of us must answer: am I kingdom building or team building? It is so tempting, as we rise in leadership, to start making things about us, and we do it most times without noticing. The higher we move on the org chart, the more authority we earn. We can start to make decisions that look noble on the outside, but are selfish in nature and really only benefit us. It is easy to fall into this trap and that’s why it is important to have a close group of people you trust and confide in. You need “truth cops” in your circle who will call you out when necessary (in a nice way), and who will ask the tough questions.
Public service leaders especially need to be aware of this trap because when they start building a kingdom, the public loses. If we are not careful, we can start sacrificing service for selfishness. Public officials should be able to walk away at any time the public asks them to. We serve the public, and must always have their best interests in mind. After all, they depend on us. Public officials, especially elected officials, must always remember the power is with the people. If we lose public trust, we become ineffective and have two options: ask for forgiveness and work to regain trust, or go home.
If you are kingdom building, you might make it to the top of the org chart, but when you get there, you will be all alone. If you are team building, you won’t care who’s at the top of the chart, but your team will.