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“Now as you slowly lift up on the clutch, press down gently on the accelerator.”


Our old Datsun station wagon lurched forward and stalled. Whenever we moved ahead or shifted gears my body lurched forward and back.

I was teaching one of our children the art of driving a manual shift car. I chose an abandoned parking lot to avoid any problems on the street. There was only one other car parked in the corner of the otherwise empty area. A policeman on his lunch break. I’m sure we were providing plenty of entertainment.

Before long we had moved on to a quiet neighborhood with wide streets. Here was an opportunity to learn the fine points of downshifting to gain power on hills or to make a turn. Moving to a lower gear also saved on using the brakes when coming to a stop.

Companies, organizations, churches, and families have had to shift gears in the past few years. Downshifting was necessary to negotiate curves and obstacles and to preserve a long-term future. But the toll on many was devastating. Some had no choice but to come to a complete stop, even abruptly with no chance to slowly downshift and adjust.

I recently heard a church district president encouraging a congregation that had been vacant for many months. Now that they had a new pastor, he told them it was time to step on the accelerator. Later that afternoon I had a chance to share with him. I said I felt some churches had forgotten where that accelerator was. They couldn’t find the clutch pedal to shift gears. They were stuck in neutral. Even worse, some were in reverse. He solemnly nodded in agreement.

Some people and organizations are worried about shifting into gear. In the push to “gear up” others are shifting to a higher gear as quickly as possible to get back to whatever existed before. Some are constantly shifting gears without notice, without warning, not allowing others to understand what their plan is and how to move with them.

Leaders of churches, organizations, companies and families need to recognize that their members and employees not only might be in different gears but even driving different vehicles. The effort it takes to move forward is greater for some than it is for others. The circumstances that affect their ability to maneuver down the road may vary significantly. Their need to downshift from time to time must be recognized and validated with our words and actions. We can’t assume because we are moving forward in high gear that someone else is also.

To properly gear up, it’s important to make preparations before trying to move forward. Take the necessary steps to lay the groundwork to assure our goals. Perhaps adapt to a changed landscape of employees or customers.

We also need to gear up our family members, our congregation, our employees. Provide for them instead of always asking for more from them. Equip them when we need them to adapt and find new paths. Help them to shift gears for themselves in an affirming way.

Jesus shifted gears constantly. He healed hundreds and preached to thousands. And then he downshifted to pray to His Father. He suddenly shifted into high gear and moved from place to place to avoid being claimed a political king by the adoring populace or being arrested by the religious leaders before His time (John 10:39-40). And then he would gather his close followers and go on a retreat. (See Matthew 10; Mark 3:13)

But His path, His road, His purpose, His goal was always the same: His death and resurrection in Jerusalem. His saving atonement for the whole world’s sins.

And so He geared up!

He laid the groundwork with His baptism, the selection of apostles, the miracles He performed, and His many teachings. He kept telling his disciples that everything was arranged for His execution and resurrection. And then came the ultimate gearing up in Gethsemane where He was strengthened for what lay ahead.

The disciples came to a full stop after that horrible crucifixion. They weren’t just in neutral. They had turned off the engine. Though they had been told what would happen, they couldn’t face the reality of Jesus’ death.

But then the Lord Jesus came to them. Their Leader was back! And He geared them up! He taught them again how the prophecies had been fulfilled (Luke 24:27, 44-45). He told them what the future would be. And then the Holy Spirit descended on them all and put them into high gear (Acts 2:1-4). There was no stopping the message of love and grace and forgiveness.

I know I need to take my lead from my Lord Jesus and gear up for the purpose He lays before me. To downshift more often and go to Him in prayer. To prepare myself before trying to equip those around me.

And I know I can trust in His promise to guide and direct me whenever I go to His Word and listen to His voice.

Take your team through the Biblical DISC® Assessment and learn how everyone gears up differently! 

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