problem solving

The Best (re)Action

images-3What is our first reaction to a challenge, problem, or crisis? How many panic or just plain freak out? How many get all “hero” and do something immediately… even if it’s wrong? How many retreat ASAP to get away, process and plan?

What if we did something altogether different? What if, instead of immediately asking, “What am I going to do?” we first asked, “Lord, what do you want to do?”

Pray first. Consider a small but powerful commentary on some of our Biblical heroes found in Scripture, “Abraham prayed…” “Isaac prayed…” “Jacob prayed…” “Moses prayed…” “Samson prayed…” “Hannah prayed…” “David prayed…” “Elijah prayed…” “Elisha prayed…” “Nehemiah prayed…” “Daniel prayed…” “Jonah prayed…” “Jesus prayed…” “Stephen prayed…” “Peter prayed…” “Paul prayed…”

…you get the picture.

Then again, do we get the picture when it comes to prayer? The great theologian, John Bunyon lends perspective, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” Sure, we can spend a lifetime doing things by pure initiative. But what if, through prayer, we partnered in God’s initiative, His plan and purpose? We won’t know until we try.

The next time something comes up and we don’t know what to do, let’s make our first reaction taking action through prayer. Remember, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” (Oswald Chambers) 

4 Questions for Solving Problems

imgres-5Face it, you and your lead team will face problems as you work to realize the vision God has given you. You are probably in the middle of solving one right now. The greater the vision, the larger the challenge. How do you address these problems in a way that positions you to be even more effective for Christ and His cause?

Here are 4 Questions to ask to help solve the problems you will face…

1) What’s Who’s the problem? The problem is rarely something. Someone is usually behind the problem. It may very well be the one bringing the problem to your attention. Or, you may be the problem and not know it.

Most problems are relational. How can you as a leader set the example? How can you hold yourself and others accountable and foster better relationships while solving the problem together? Don’t rush in to “fix it.” Take the time to discover who is involved, what is involved and how you can partner in making it right.

2) “How long have you felt this way?” The person with the problem (yourself included) may have stewed and brood over it so long they have turned something simple into something serious. In other words, they have turned a “mole-hill into a mountain.” Deal with the felt needs and then learn to process problems in a more timely manner, in the moments that matter.

The Apostle Paul gave some strong advice concerning timing and problem people to the church in Ephesus, Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:25-27, NIV)

 3) “What do you suggest?” Don’t enable people by allowing them to complain, criticize or even critique without bringing something of value to the table. Create a culture in your church or organization that holds everyone responsible for being part of the solution. Don’t focus on problem people. Focus on solving problems with people. 

4) “What does Scripture say?” People can and will argue with you. Don’t get caught up in the blame game. Instead, appeal to the Word of God as your guide as you seek the most redemptive option. Find a relevant passage and discover how it applies to the very real situation you are in. I have yet to face a problem (or a problem person) that the Word of God was not able to address with clarity and bring harmony, if minds were teachable and hearts were pliable. See Matthew 18 for a refresher on relational problem solving procedures.

One final thought… don’t internalize. We often take things too personal as leaders. This only complicates things. You and your lead team very well may be to blame. If so, own it, deal with it, and move on. However, when you aren’t directly at fault, don’t get caught up in the emotion. Stay in a humble posture as you hold others accountable. Refuse to either internalize or enable as you face the problem and problem people with ample grace and firm intent.

How do you handle problems and the problem people who come with them? Share your suggestions in the Reply section below!