They seek the advice of others.
I remember trying to put a swing set together for my daughters. The instructions made no sense to me, so I found someone who’d put a swing set together for his kids. He told me he’d made a complete mess of the entire thing. That’s the guy I asked to come on over. As he described what he’d done I did the opposite—and the project came together.
Effective problem-solvers don’t necessarily look for advice from the smartest person they know. They look for someone who’s tackled the problem. Even if that person failed, you can learn something. And notice that good problem-solvers aren’t afraid to ask for advice. They’re open to new information. They’re willing to admit that they don’t have all the answers. Will you admit it when you don’t know—and ask for advice?
They take reasonable risks.
There are risks involved in everything. But there are risks and there are risks. Not every risk is worth taking. Reasonable risks include things that don’t jeopardize your health, or the lives of people you serve. They don’t create total chaos and confusion in your ministry. They don’t have people questioning your salvation or your sanity.
But they do include trying new things, stretching yourself.
And if God clearly tells you to do something, that’s no risk at all—no matter how strange it might sound. When God told Noah to take up boat building, it had to sound like the craziest thing anyone had ever heard…until the rain started to fall. You’ll never step out and be the leader God wants you to be without taking risks. Are you willing?
I know people who frantically try one solution after another when they hit a problem, and when all else fails, they pray. That’s backwards. Listen, if you’re leading in the church be a person of prayer. If you lead by your sight alone, you’re headed for a cliff—and you’re leading everyone right along with you. Pray about decisions and challenges first. Allow God to guide and use you. That’s what he wants…and that’s who you’re working for. Now and then, when I’ve gone to the Lord about a problem, he’s clearly shown me what to do. So I did exactly what he said and the problem was solved. “Thus sayeth the Lord” always works.
But many times the Lord doesn’t provide me with a clear answer. Maybe I’m not listening, but there are times I ask for guidance and hear…nothing. And the problem is still sitting there. Personally, I think the Lord doesn’t care how you solve some problems, so long as your solution honors him. He leaves it up to you. He just wants you to solve the problem. He’s given you permission. When problems present themselves, do you pray? And do you listen for God’s answer?
The most important thing you can do with a problem is also the one thing that may frighten you most: confront it head on. Don’t ignore it. Don’t hope it’ll go away or get better on its own. You’re a leader, and that means you’re a problem solver.