Solving the Problem
In church life there can be a danger that problems mount so fast that we find ourselves taking shortcuts to temporarily alleviate the tension points – so we can move onto the next problem. In the process, we fail to solve the core of each problem, which can result in the trap of a never-ending cycle that makes it difficult to find any real resolutions, and we quickly reach the point of overload. Allow me to share some problem solving tips, not as an expert problem solver but very much as a leader who has much to learn.
- Pray for wisdom: Yes, it really is this simple, but prayer a powerful tool to have when leading. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
- Define the problem: Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” So often the real problem isn’t always obvious, and we end up addressing the symptoms of the problem leaving us with incomplete solutions.
- Gather some good knowledge: Information about your problem can often decrease that uncertain anxiety and fear we face when we are challenged with something. My personal experience suggests that often the problem might not be as bad as I thought. I love the example in Nehemiah 2:11ff, of Nehemiah riding around and gathering first-hand knowledge of the problem.
- View your problem from a new perspective: Jesus was great at this. He helped people identify their real problems by looking at their lives from a new and different perspective. In John 4:14, Jesus demonstrated this principal in that the real problem wasn't physical thirst, and the solution wasn't H2O.
- Ask for help: You can ask people for advice on what to do and what they did in similar situations like yours. But you can also ask for more practical help. You don’t have to solve every problem on your own and sometimes it feels better to have someone by your side, even if it is just for emotional support; please do remember that at Rural Ministries we are here to help! If you really don’t have anyone to ask then books, forums and blogs are good resources for gathering the personal experience of people.
- Let go of the need to be right: Open your mind to a solution that may work and try it out instead of just making snap judgements based on little information and experience. The need to be right can make you disregard solutions that are just what you need for far too long.
- Communicate: Don’t leave people guessing. Being human, we tend overlook keeping others informed about the progress we’re making, especially if there is little or no progress. You’re more likely to get support and understanding if you get the word out honestly about what is happening.
- Retain your focus: While the walls of Jerusalem were rapidly taking shape, Nehemiah’s enemies tried to sidetrack him from the project by repeatedly inviting him to a summit (Nehemiah 6:1-4), but he kept his focus; so should we.
- Take your time: Identifying and solving the real problem takes time, so don’t rush it.
- Acknowledge and thank everyone who helps: Solving an important problem deserves recognition, and nobody else is going to take care of this for you. Make sure you thank everyone who participated in helping you; not only is it polite, it also encourages people to help you next time.