It has been said, “Wherever there are people, there will be problems.” Problems exist everywhere we turn in life and are easy to find in our personal relationships, in our community, at our job, and in our church. Problems literally can be found in every aspect of our lives. The late Whitney Houston sadly admitted, “I finally faced the fact that it isn’t a crime not having friends. Being alone means you have fewer problems.“ Unfortunately her statement is not always true. Avoiding people doesn’t guarantee fewer problems, but it does guarantee we will be left alone in trying to solve them. Because problems are found “wherever there are people,” I believe it is best to solve problems with people!
Early on in my life I learned how to become a problem solver. I have solved little problems and big problems, marriage problems and ministry problems, personal problems and other people’s problems. I’ve actually become pretty good at it! I can honestly say I’ve made a living by helping people, churches and companies solve their problems. In this life we have a choice. We can learn to solve problems or we can learn to live with problems. I prefer to solve them. Here’s how I’ve learned to solve problems and in doing so have become a problem solver.
Love People - If you don’t love people you will not care enough to create solutions that will help them with their problems. Every year I purposely lead a team on a missions trip to witness first hand problems such as poverty, disease and lack of education. When most people see these problems their compassion for people rises and they want to be a part of the solution. It may be through child sponsorship or dedicating their life to solve problems for that specific people group, but love is the key motivating factor for problem solving.
Identify the Real Problem - It’s easy to see and point out problems, but it takes a problem solver to deal with the root of a problem and not the fruit of a problem. When a problem manifests the temptation is to deal with the surface issue which sometimes is necessary. As problem solvers though, we must understand the problem will pop up again if we don’t take time to dig deep for the root. An example of dealing with the fruit instead of the root is attempting to change the culture of an organization. You may start by changing the atmosphere by hanging motivational posters that dealt with the fruit, but discover you really needed to start with the negative attitude deeply rooted in the employees.
Bring Solutions to the Table - As I mentioned above, people applaud themselves for being problem finders, however; problem solvers not only find problems, they find ways to fix them. I was taught that when you bring a problem to everyone’s attention you need to bring three possible solutions that everyone can evaluate! There would be less problem finders if we just ask the question, “how do you think we can fix the problem.” I recall someone pointing out to me a specific problem about our church sign not being updated on a regular basis. I responded that I was glad that they noticed because I had been looking for a volunteer to do that very thing. The person told me they had to pray about it and I never heard from them or about the problem again. When you find a problem create a rule for yourself to bring at least three solutions with you!
Bounce Solutions Off of Others - Take time to bounce your solutions off of other problem solvers. They will in turn help our improve your solutions, add to them, and also give them an opportunity to buy in. If you bringing solutions to the table without asking for input, your asking for more problems.
Implement the Solution- Problem solving is risky. It may cost more money than you have. It may take a huge step of faith on your part. However, not implementing the solution cannot be an option. Failing to act on a solution discredits one’s problem solving ability and discourages others around you. Implementation of a solution brings a sense of victory, accomplishment and builds momentum to tackle bigger problems.
See the Problem Solved - A problem solver’s job is never done, but I believe each time we solve a problem we graduate to the next degree of difficulty. The challenges get harder, the risk gets greater, and as a professional problem solver those are the problems we live for! The more problems we solve the more people we can help! The harder the problem, the greater the impact it has on people when it’s solved!
What problem do you need help solving? Let’s solve it!