LeaderSHIFT Part 2: 5 Gears Every Leader Needs

In LeaderSHIFT Part 1 we talked about the shift we go through and how that makes a huge difference in our life keeping us alert, aware and mindful Here, in part two, I want to talk about the gears themselves. After-all, the gears are what give us power and get us moving.

In my 1966 Robin’s Egg Blue Volkswagen there were five gears. First, second, third, fourth and reverse. Let’s take a look at each one and see how making a LeaderSHIFT can give us the power to make a difference.

1st Gear: Connecting Deeply

Connect deeply with two other people you can trust.

Call it what you want, accountability, connection, community but the bottom line is this, who really knows you deeply? Who can see past your hang ups, extend grace and mercy and love you anyway? Who can lift you up in prayer or be your wise guidance in the midst of difficulty or discouragement?

A healthy leader needs to connect deeply with at least two other people. Why two others? Because, A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLTse

2nd Gear: Creating Space

Create some space for God to show up.

We try to over program just about everything we do. Look at our calendars, our work schedules our church services. Minute by minute, moment by moment, every second accounted for. Why? Are we afraid to be alone with ourselves for even a few minutes? Perhaps we could create some space between us and the emotional traffic around us? What if we created a five minute space in a church service after a song or a point in a sermon? I wonder what would happen. The fear, of course, is that God would not show up and we would have 5 minutes of down time. Oh no!

Creating space isn’t easy. In fact, it can be uncomfortable. Throw your comfort out the window for 30 minutes sometime this week and see what happens. No agenda, no strategy, nothing. Maybe bring along a pen and a empty notebook because if God speaks you may want to capture what He has to say.

One of the most defining moments for me came while speaking this past May at the Tru Gathering at Willow Creek. There was 10 minutes that simply didn’t fit programmatically into the 90 minute session where I was slotted to speak. The suggestion was to leave the 10 minutes alone and see what would happen. Conventional wisdom would say, “there are a 1000 people in the room, program it!” They didn’t and it was powerful! 10 minutes of God connections as the power of the Holy Spirit showed up and all because we didn’t do another song!

3rd Gear: Celebrating Others

Celebrate others openly and publicly.

There is strength in honoring others. There must be someone to celebrate or give thanks for each day. What gets in the way when a leader fails to make a shift and celebrate others is entitlement. A leader who is entitled is a leader who is unbridled. There is nothing to reign them in. Entitlement says, “I deserve to be where I am, I have worked hard to get here.”

A thankful leader, a leader who celebrates others, who encourages others, builds up and into others is the leader who has made a shift away from themselves and toward others. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLTse

Forgetting to acknowledge those around you with a hug, a high five, handshake or an encouraging word or public recognition is a leader who is afraid. Afraid that someone else will be liked or valued more than they are. I like the sign on the fence post on an old country road that read, “If you ever see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he had help getting there.”

Who have you celebrated this week? Who have you helped to get to the top of a fence post?  Make a LeaderSHIFT and pick someone up and put them on top of a fence post today.

4th Gear: Considering Your Heart

Consider how to keep your heart.

Soul care requires self care. Proverbs 4:23 CEV reminds us to, Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.

The word guard paints a picture of a protector looking out for an intruder, keeping someone or something safe from harm. Proverbs is telling us to keep our hearts safe. What is our heart exactly? Our heart is referring to our soul or our innermost being. It’s the center of our thoughts, emotions, words and deeds.

How do we protect it? We shift gears. First consider what our heart needs? Why is it so valuable? Then consider how to guard it, how to keep it. We can journal, read, meditate and the list can go on. Rather than giving a long list of what we already know take a few minutes and find out what is best for you and make a LeaderSHIFT.

Reverse: Changing Direction

Use reverse, don’t drive in it.

Reverse is there for a reason. Of course we don’t travel in reverse but without this gear we will never be able to move forward effectively. Reverse simply gives us an option when we get stuck, it allows us to reposition ourselves and move forward once again. We all get stuck and when we get stuck we need to back up. We get stuck mentally, we get stuck emotionally and sometimes we just get stuck generally and need to throw it in reverse. We face obstacles others have made or ones we have created and the only way out is a rear view mirror and a LeaderSHIFT into reverse.

  • Backing up to say I’m sorry to someone you have offended.
  • Backing up to get a fresh perspective on a continuing problem.
  • Backing up to help someone who has lost their way.

Reverse isn’t a gear of regret but a gear of freedom.
If you don’t think so throw it in reverse and back up to the Cross of Christ, you will get a fresh perspective and new start from there.

This is what the Lord says: ‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back? Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling tightly to their lies and will not turn around. Jeremiah 8:4-5 NLTse

Maybe it’s time for a LeaderSHIFT into a forward gear and leave the past behind!

While neutral is not a gear we cross it every time we shift from one gear to another. An automatic leader rarely feels the freedom of neutral because they are always in drive. The best they can manage is to keep their foot on the brake. A leader who is mindful and aware will shift into neutral from time to time.


Neutral: Ceasing Movement


Neutral is a moment of "gear disengagement” and we need moments of disengagement in order to be healthy leaders.

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth Psalms 46:10 NASB. Now, foot off the gas, disengage and cease striving, cease accomplishing, cease trying, cease pursuing and know. Know that “I am God.”

Question: What gear do you need to shift into from today’s post?