Like it or not, you’ve got to be a problem-solver.
People who serve under you already see you as a problem-solver—and they need you to take on that role.
For most of us in Children’s Ministry, problem-solving isn’t our strongest skill. We’re wired to be care-takers. We love feeding the sheep God’s entrusted to us. We’re natural born teachers. We’re not so good at doing the administrative analysis, measuring, and evaluation that let us solve problems before they develop into full-blown crises. Does the notion that people expect you to solve problems make you uncomfortable? If so, you’re in good company. There’s a long list of outstanding leaders in Scripture who failed as problem-solvers.
When people told Moses they needed water, Moses smacked a rock with a stick—which disappointed God. Daniel fell short now and then in the problem-solving department. Peter wanted to do something to help out Jesus in the Garden, so he drew a sword and lopped off someone’s ear.
Being a problem-solver doesn’t mean you always have the right answer at your fingertips. Or that you always make the right decision or do the right thing. But it does mean you’re willing to make decisions and face problems head on.
Do you think of yourself as a problem solver? I’ve watched excellent problem-solvers, and here are some characteristics they display when it’s time to toss rocks at their Goliaths:
They’re willing to give it a try.
If you walk past a fence that needs to be painted long enough, you’ll quit noticing the paint is peeling. You get used to the problem. And when you get used to problems, they quit feeling like problems. You no longer feel an urgency to roll up your sleeves and try to fix things. Leaders identify challenges as challenges—and they act. They think of themselves as problem-solvers. They’re proactive and intentional in making things better. What’s your approach when a challenge finds you? Do you turn and face it? Or do you ignore it, hoping it’ll go away?
They explore options.
A friend of mine calls now and then, and he always says, “I think God’s calling me to leave this church and go to another church.” Then he lists all the challenges he’s currently facing. So I ask, “Why don’t you get out of there? If God’s calling you somewhere else, quit so you’re ready to move.” That’s when he backpedals. “Well, then I’d just be facing a whole new set of problems. At least here I know what they are.”
He’s right: he will find new challenges wherever he goes—that’s life. But if God’s calling him to move, God will help him deal with the challenges he runs into down the road. My friend just isn’t willing to explore new opportunities. He’s stuck. We get stuck too. Maybe it’s fear, or apathy, or just being worn out, but sometimes when our first try to solve a problem doesn’t work we surrender.
But the first solution often isn’t the best solution. Best solutions are often the third…or fourth…or twentieth idea that comes to mind when you’re figuring out how to get through or around a challenge. How quickly do you stop at your first solution? How well do you explore options?