Archives for : Listening

Shifting Gears

Gear Shift

The very first car my wife and I bought together, right before we married, was a 1974 Mustang II. It did not have an automatic transmission but, rather, was a five-speed manual. She had never driven a stick shift before, so the training began. Nothing like learning to drive a five-speed to see how well you will really be able to get along. She was doing quite well until one day we had an errand to drive where the area was quite hilly.

Unfortunately, the traffic light caught us where the hill was the steepest, and now the real test was about to begin. When the light turned green she tried, but we rolled backwards. Again, she tried but the result was the same. The man behind us was quite concerned waving his hands and honking his horn. I pulled up the emergency hand break in the middle console, told her to gun it, pop the clutch, and I let the brake down.   You can get rubber even in a 4-cylinder!

She became very proficient with a manual transmission, which proved to be quite useful while we were living in Romania.   Learning to know when to be in the right gear at the right time allows the engine to function at its optimum. In the wrong gear at the wrong time and the engine labors and can even shut down. Being in the right gear at the right time is also important in our lives for us personally, our families, and wherever we may work. If you are in the wrong gear at the wrong time damage can be done.

The following gears are used in the book Five Gears: How to Be Present When there Is Never Enough Time by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram. The key is being aware of the gear you are in, the gear others are in around you, and then being willing to shift into the needed gear for the moment. We will run over people if we choose to continue at the speed we are traveling and are unwilling to down shift, slow down, and be fully present and focused on them where they are at the moment.

  • First Gear is the Recharge Mode. This is where you completely unplug and are able to get refreshed, recharged, and reenergized. This is your time alone with God and making sure you get the rest and relaxation that you need. This is why there is a day and a night, a Sabbath, a time to work and a time to rest. God placed these rest rhythms into our lives for our health and well-being. Do not skip over first gear and try to start off too fast in another gear because eventually you will damage your engine.
  • Second Gear is the Connect Mode. We must learn to be fully present with our families. The people we love the most deserve our best in the area of our undivided attention during quality time together. We cannot afford to always be distracted and guilty of being physically present but not emotionally. Are you connecting appropriately with your wife and with your children? The reality is that miscommunication grows exponentially the busier our lives become.
  • Third Gear is the Social Mode. This middle gear gives us the ability to shift down or up pretty easily. We can downshift into second gear where we can spend quality time with someone that allows up to get to know them more personally. Look for these opportunities and capitalize on them but also be ready to upshift to being able to multi-task. The key to third gear is being aware of what is needed at the moment and having “EQ” which is emotional intelligence.
  • Fourth Gear is Task Mode. This is where we are multi-tasking and working hard in several different areas. It is interesting that 85% or people are usually in this gear but you cannot stay there forever. It is not good if the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night is to check your email. There is a time that all of us need to learn to shut it off and to shutdown. This gear can be exhilarating and bring a lot of personal satisfaction as we check things off of our to-do list.
  • Fifth Gear is the Focus Mode. Now you are 100% focused on the task and you are uninterrupted as you complete it. This has been described as being “in the zone.” I have asked several what that looks like in their particular field. A policeman shared with me that it is when he is able to help someone. An owner of a factory shared with me that it is that 2-3 minutes every day when everything and everyone is working in perfect harmony. An NFL quarterback said it is when he can see the whole field and knows what everyone is going to do and how the defense will react, the opposite of tunnel vision.

When are you in “the zone?” Where is your sweet spot when you are at your best and can be the most productive you can be? It may be in 90-minute segments, early mornings, or right after lunch. Maybe you need to get around people to be “in the zone” or you need to be locked in a room by yourself with a white marker board as you dream and visualize. Once again, though, you cannot stay in fifth gear forever. There will be time to downshift into multi-tasking and then even downshift again to be social again.

To properly drive a five-speed transmission you must be aware of how the engine sounds, the terrain, the correct speed needed, and sensitive to what is needed at the moment. The same is true in our lives as we become more self-aware of the gear needed for us to be productive and personable. You cannot always be the social butterfly because there is work to be done nor should you continually be all about the work while ignoring relationships.

Healthy Christians know when to shift gears!


The Power of Coaching

coaching testimonies

Coach training has made a huge impact on my life and my approach to ministry.  It has helped me to focus more on listening than telling.  The C.O.A.C. H. Model® by Keith Webb (Connect, Outcome, Awareness, Course, Highlights) has equipped me with a simple reproducible process that helps the person being coached to discover and implement God’s leading in their life.  Here is Chris Driver’s testimony written to Danny Kirk on the benefits of coaching and coach training.  Chris is the Pastor of Union Hill Baptist Church, Brownsboro, TX.

“I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know just how amazing the Coaching Workshop training was! I’m not really sure what I was expecting that first day, but I got more than I could’ve ever hoped for! On the way home from the last day of training I stopped and had lunch with a youth pastor friend of mine and put it to work right away. My friend walked away with two action steps to help him and his volunteers clear up their vision and definition of what a successful youth ministry will look like for them. TOO COOL!

But that was just scratching the surface, my friend.  I am becoming more convinced every day that this might well be the greatest discipleship tool I’ve ever come across. Here’s why.  I have searched high and low for a curriculum or program or book or theory or anything I could find that would help guide people into a growing, vibrant, intentional relationship with Jesus Christ.  I’ve come across some pretty good stuff but there’s nothing out there that can just be used across the board.  Reason?  Every believer is different in too many ways.  They’re in different places spiritually, come from different backgrounds, are going through different trials and tribulations, and need to work on different things.  So what’s the solution?  Easy!  THE HOLY SPIRIT!  Man, I can’t tell you how hard that hit me during the training.  I can’t replace the Holy Spirit and neither can a curriculum!  But I can help guide a disciple through questions and let them go where the Holy Spirit wants them to go, work on what He wants them to work on, and become who He wants them to be!  WHAT A CONCEPT!!!

Brother, I haven’t been this excited about my ministry in a long time.  I’ve been overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion trying to figure out how to carry people or drive people or herd people into real discipleship.  But now I realize all I have to do is sit and listen and ask a few questions and let them and our amazing God have a conversation that changes their life!  Now, that’s exciting…and freeing!  Thanks for everything, my friend. May God continue to bless you and this amazing ministry.”

Here are a couple more testimonies of the blessing of having a coach and being coached:

“Having been absolutely alone on the mission field for a great portion of my life, and without anyone on whom to lean in times of difficulty, it has been really refreshing to me during the past couple of years to have a coach in whom I can confide and depend upon when I need counsel and direction.  I strongly encourage any servant of God to find and use a good coach.” Buddy Johnson, Missionary to Mexico and now the Director of International Church Planting Training.

“I was recently in a conversation with my coach, Danny Kirk, about what small groups look like at Grace Hills, and how we know when a group is healthy. By the end of our conversation, I had seven clearly articulated signs of group health and the kind of metric to apply to each. (And that’s the benefit of coaching!)”  Brandon Cox, Church Planter, Northwest AR

“After I personally experienced the benefits of having a coach, I knew I wanted to learn how to coach others. I recently attended a coaches training with several other BMAA leaders and the skills I learned have already made me a much better leader. Using the coaching method, I have helped those in ministry leadership, my family, and my church discover how to move forward with God’s calling for their life. I have learned that coaching allows the Holy Spirit to lead the person instead of me trying to tell him/her what decision they should make. The results I am seeing from coaching are the reason that I am sold on coaching!”  Todd West, Lead Pastor Oasis Church, North Little Rock, AR.

Learn more about being coached and being trained to coach by contacting me, Danny Kirk, or checking out and