I had an interesting conversation today about the challenges and blessings that the Church is facing today in the 21st century. We had an opportunity to reflect by ourselves, followed by a small group conversation. After the small group conversation, each group was asked to report back to the large group their observations and ideas. All four groups had an opportunity to share their list of blessings and their list of challenges.
After the first two groups reported, I was feeling kind of depressed. The list of challenges was much longer then the list of blessings. To be honest, I was kind of annoyed as well. We spent all this time coming up with challenges (or problems), and not one solution was brought forth. This was true for my small group as well. At one point during the discussion, I shared my depression and then shared an observation and question. “Some problems we don’t have any influence over. Some we do. So my question is this: what are three things we can do that will have an impact over the 80% of challenges we have influence over?” I was trying to problem solve.
I discovered something really simple: Anybody can come up with a problem. It takes a leader to come up with solutions. I asked the question I did because I didn’t just want to focus on problems. I wanted to come up with solutions!
One of the rules of thumb I’ve heard before is the following:
- If you bring me a problem, you need to bring me three solutions as well.
I really like this concept. I don’t want people in ministry that just come up with problems all day long. I want leaders. Bring me solutions. It is a true test of a leader if s/he can bring solutions to the table.
New rule for my ministry: If you bring me a problem, bring me three solutions. I’m sure my team will be thrilled. However, there are benefits to this way of thinking.
- People will bring me less problems. Why? Because they know they have to get creative a bring some solutions.
- We will solve the problems faster. Immediately after the problem is named, we will have three choices to pursue that will help bring closure to the problem. We’ll be able to decide and move forward.
- The teams attitude will change. We will be less problem-oriented to more solution-oriented. We will move from looking for problems to looking for solutions. That will cause us to look at any challenges that come our way with hope, knowing that we will have a plan of action to solve.
Alfred A. Montapert wisely stated, “The majority see obstacles; the few see the objectives; history records the successes of the latter, while oblivion is the reward of the former.”
Let us all be leaders who look for solutions, not just problems.