The other day a firefighter was recounting to me some of the more horrific events of his life and career. Any one of them could have been the sources of his PTSD. As he was talking, I watched his countenance start to fall. You could tell he had been through some things he hadn’t fully dealt with yet.
Then he went on to tell me how he overcame alcoholism. After binge drinking too many times, he had a personal internal conflict. As much as he liked to drink, his work ethic wouldn’t allow him to come to work hungover. He was determined not to let alcoholism beat him! Now, as we talked, I saw his countenance change and his face brighten.
Following a Calling
I wouldn’t call my friend was a deeply religious man. In fact, I’m sure it’s been decades since he darkened the door of a place of worship unless it was to attend someone’s wedding. But I would say that he is a deeply spiritual man. The words he used to describe alcohol addiction and his battle were very deep and spiritual. When he talked about running a call on a family member killed in a fire you can hear the grasping for hope as he tries to make sense of the deep trauma. Yet he continues in the fire service and has a passion to do it better. The fire service is part of his spiritual makeup and how he expresses it.
“The religious man experiences life not simply as a task, but as a mission,” says Victor Frankl. And with all due respect to Mr. Frankl, I would add that the spiritual man feels the same way too. And when we combine our spiritual and religious understandings to our daily tasks, they take on new and deeper, meanings. Working in public safety is no longer just a job. It turns into an all-consuming passion. When it does, we as people of faith start to use words like “calling” and “ministry” and it starts to shape even our theology.
What Is Your Passion in Life?
Is it your job that gives you passion for life? Or is it your faith and spiritual outlook that give you passion for your job? If it’s the former, to lose your job may cause you to feel purposeless and lose your passion. If it’s the latter, you will continue to find new depths in your work no matter what life throws at you.
My passion is to see chaplains help first responders and the community in a way that is honoring to God and their faith and the people they serve, while obeying the laws and court rulings in place to guide us. My heart is to help raise up highly qualified and professional public safety chaplains. This is my “calling” and “ministry.”
What is your passion? How are you living it out?
South Carolina Public Safety Chaplains Association