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Is your Organization full of "Dry Bones"

On Sunday, I connected with my pastor’s message. It was powerful, enlightening, and relative in so many ways. Sitting with my family in church, I focused on his sermon. I pulled the bible out of the pew and repeatedly read the words. I could envision his message, but more importantly, I could feel it!

The pastor started with a simple song. Although I have heard this since childhood, I have yet to learn its origin. I missed it in CCD classes but learned so much on Sunday morning. The song went something like this, “your foot bone is connected to your leg bone; your leg bone is connected to your knee bone….” Many of you are probably singing the song [in your head] as you read this.

The song was believed to be popular amongst the slaves in the underground railroad. It reflected when many slaves were separated from their families, and the song was a sign of “hope” that they would be reunited one day.

How does this resonate in today’s fire service?

Many organizations struggle to find harmony between leadership and human capital. The actual reasons go far beyond the stereotypical responses we think of, such as personalities, egos, or poor communication. And yes, some leaders only focus on themselves and leverage the hard work of others to achieve their success.

However, there is hope. I have read many articles published in trade magazines and on social media platforms, and I am convinced that some organizations and leaders are committed to promoting the fantastic personnel in the organization and the “great” things they’re doing. Their “dry bones” came alive, and they strive to create an organization where the environment is welcoming and committed to everyone’s success.

What can we do?

Start by identifying the “dry bones,” but more importantly, realize that the membership has the hope and desire to be part of a great organization. Honestly, who doesn’t?

Leadership needs to look at the membership and recognize that each person has significant value to the organization and brings more to the table than you think. The “dry bones” need a strong leader to connect “dem bones” to the hope and passion that brought them to the organization (volunteer or career) in the first place. I believe the fire service remains the greatest profession on earth and attracts people who want to serve their community. As leaders, we owe it to them and the communities we serve!

You cannot do this alone!

As I went back and read the bible verse, I only wished I had heard this before [Ezekiel 37:1-14]. Mentorship is a successful journey, no matter your rank or position. Whether connecting to some of those great fire service leaders or seeking spiritual guidance [no matter your faith], we must face that we are not alone.

As a leader, you may find yourself in the Valley of Dry Bones but have “hope” and breathe the spirit of the fire service into the membership. Connect their foot bone to their leg bone and get them moving. Connect with them personally, engage them to be part of the process, inspire them (and rest assured, they will inspire you), and, more importantly - serve them.

Your selfless service will be rewarded, and the journey (although it may be extended) will be exciting for everyone involved!

Paul Wind, Battalion Chief {Retired}

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