Time to Shift Gears

Time to Shift Gears

We recently returned from a trip to the mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado. The route from Central Texas to the Rocky Mountains was a steep climb, and at times the car took its own initiative to shift to a new gear in order to make the grade. It was something the Texas car was not accustomed to, but did with great efficiency. You never know what can be done until a challenge is encountered and met!

It is easy to stay in the same comfort zone and glide along. That is not a bad thing to do on occasion, but in order to reach new heights, it takes being pushed. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges to moving to great expectations is just getting started. Getting that first extra “kick” of motivation is what many of us need in order to see dreams become a reality.

Our trip required planning. Things like selecting:

* Location: cool or sunny, beach or mountains, near or far, hotel or cabin.
* Time: early summer or late, a full week or a long weekend
* Route: scenic or direct, visit sights and family along the way, or non-stop

Each person had an opinion, but getting the trip going required some consensus, and then concrete planning. Even deciding what hour of the day to leave was an exercise in diplomatic negotiation. But once we started rolling, the trip “was on” and the vacation became a reality.

Many of us see destinations we want to reach in our personal lives, but we face many challenges. Perhaps one of the greatest obstacles is just getting the motivational push to get beyond the “wishing” and into the “doing”!

When Moses was attempting to motivate the people of Israel to move to the Promised Land, it took some prodding from God.

“The Lord our God spoke to us…saying ‘you have stayed long enough at this mountain. Turn and set your journey, and go….”
– Deuteronomy 1:6-7a

There are some who offer simple solutions for challenging problems; usually they are people who find their struggles to be in different areas from those they give their glib responses.

1. ” It isn’t that hard – just stop doing that.”
2. ” You just need to get over it…just forget about it.”
3. ” Anybody can do it if they just put their mind to it.”

These and all of the other annoying simple solutions to life’s challenges are easy to say, but seldom help.

How can we get geared up to make positive changes in our lives?

How can we move from this mountain to a new place?


We must have a goal. We may not know all that we will see in that new place, but it must be attractive enough for us to be willing to accept the challenge of getting there.

Set a goal for each of the four areas of the balanced life in the First Place Program.

  • Spiritual – what is a growth area for you at this time: Scripture memory, application, personal devotion, service? We could improve in every area, but which one needs the greatest work? Reflect on someone you have known who has lived that faith quality in a way that was most meaningful to you in the past. You do not need to be like them, but can learn from that model of faith.
  • Mental – When is the last time you read something that really challenged you to think? Select a book or take a study course that will stretch your thinking.
  • Emotional – Take an inventory of your emotions. Are you too stressed, too lazy, too intense, too depressed? Focus on the emotional tone of your current condition and seek tapes, books, wise counsel or friends who can help you shift to a new gear in this area.
  • Physical – Many think this is the only area in which First Place is concerned. It is the door through which many enter the program, but they often discover that weight issues are symptoms of other issues. Setting a physical goal and staying in a First Place group will help members reach their goals by living the balanced life.

The journey begins and ends with small measurements of progress. Just think if you were to set a goal of memorizing just one verse a week; that would be fifty-two new thoughts to draw from in the struggles and joys of everyday life. If you just lost one pound every week for a year, that would be fifty-two pounds that would free you to live a healthier life. Time is a friend when it is part of the journey and not part of the excuse.

Selecting how to get there and staying the course is very important. It is easy to get derailed or distracted, but getting on course is a big part of getting to the destination. The role of the First Place group is not only for motivation, discipline and modeling, but also for inspiration. Don’t miss a group meeting when you have gotten off of the route, but seek them out – they know the way!

We sat on a balcony and saw snow capped mountains; sat beside a mist shrouded water fall; stood in the shade of majestic pines; saw a moose, chipmunks, rabbits, groundhogs; explored an abandoned mine…,but the destination began with a dream and the dream became a reality, when we shifted into first gear the day we left the place where we had been for so long.

The view was worth the journey.

Dr. Bill Heston
University Chaplain,
Howard Payne University
Brownwood, Texas

Dr. William Heston was minister of pastoral care at Houston’s First Baptist Church; clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and a marriage therapist licensed by the state of Texas. He has also led seminars at First Place Conferences.