A fire can be something beautiful to behold or something to be feared. I have many memories of sitting around a fire on a summer night, appreciating the sizzle and smell of the burning wood, and the beauty of the flames. However, I have also seen the destructiveness of a fire which is out of control.
The Marketplace Fires
In the marketplace, we often use the term ‘fighting fires’. This means the constant ongoing battle of solving problems and preventing possible crises. The image of this is of a business owner or manager jumping from one crisis to another – putting out a ‘fire’ in one part of the business and then watching as another ‘fire’ flares up elsewhere.
If you are constantly fighting fires in your business, the focus is on the crisis and rescuing the situation, rather than on building for the future. In this precarious situation, soon your whole focus will become to fight the fires as you prevent your business from burning down.
How to Stop Fighting Fires
How then can we stop spending our lives fighting fires? Let’s step back a little and look at the nature of a fire. To burn, a fire needs three elements: fuel, oxygen and a source of heat. Each of these elements is needed if the fire is going to burn.
For example, if we place paper in a container and light it, as soon as we put a lid on the container, the fire dies down as we have removed the oxygen. The best way to fight a fire is to remove the fuel and oxygen, or to reduce the source of the heat.
If I take a fire extinguisher and aim it at the top of the flames, I will not easily put out the fire, but if I aim at the base of the flames where the vaporous gases and oxygen mixes, then I have the best strategy of putting out the fire.
Target the Source of the Fire
If we turn our sights to the fires that may flame up in our business, we often find ourselves aiming at the flames rather than targeting the source of the fire. This is why the fire will keep flaring up as we do not focus on those elements feeding the flames.
What are feeding the flames in your business? Are you fighting fires because you have sowed the wrong seeds? Or, have you allowed the wrong elements to have control over your life? Or, are you fighting fires because you have said ‘yes’ to the wrong things or ‘yes’ to too many things?
Remove the Quarreller
As wood is to fire, so is a quarrelsome person to kindle strife in a business (Prov 26:21).
We must not associate with peevish fervid people, who are swift to put the worst constructions upon matters and hot in resenting affronts. These are contentious individuals, who kindle friction. Distance yourself from the quarreller, for it will be very difficult to avoid quarrelling with those that are quarrelsome.
Fires that Overwhelm
I encourage you to think about those elements in your life that are feeding the fires. There is a lot of good news however, as God promises to rescue those who believe from the fire, as in Isaiah 43:2 – “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”
God promises to help us through those overwhelming fires we face in our businesses and private lives, but our duty must be to avoid the unnecessary fires. I have seen many fires in my three decade business career, and Isaiah 43:2 was my comfort and rescue every time.
About the Author: Dr Alan Louis is a third generation entrepreneur in a family with a 100-year business history. He devoted his life to Christianity as a child. Awarded a PhD in Commerce, is an Ultra Ironman Triathlete Gold medallist and was inducted in the IBC Hall of Fame for entrepreneurship. Internationally he has served on more than 100 private corporate boards, and has experienced the trials and successes of commerce for 3 decades.