During my lunch break at work, I would meticulously practice how I could do it faster. I eventually got my time down to under 2 minutes. I loved it, I thought it was the best thing ever.
Then some of my friends started to be able to solve a Rubik’s cube in under a minute. Confused and my pride a little hurt, I asked them how they learned to do it so quickly. They explained that there are different algorithms that you can use to solve the cube more efficiently and in less time. Apparently I had learned an easy, but time consuming, method for solving the cube, and I was never going to be able to solve it quicker until I learned a new approach.
Being a leader in ministry follows a very similar format. We often times engage problems and, with our trusty solutions, attempt to fix our problems. But what happens when we hit a wall? What happens when a method we’ve always used doesn’t work anymore? Whatever problem we might face, either with our attendance, giving, or teams, we’ll eventually hit a wall that we need to learn how to overcome.
This is where problem solving comes in. Problem solving is “the process of finding solutions to difficult or complex issues.” In ministry, this becomes much more complex, but solutions are still needed.
Here are three things that have helped me become a better problem solver and more productive leader:
1. Create Urgency
This has to be one the most uncomfortable, but most useful tools for giving you more problem solving space. Give yourself a deadline to fix the problem by; allow yourself to feel some pressure. If you always give yourself an infinite amount of time to fix a problem, I guarantee that you won't fix the problem well or quickly -- it’ll be a long drawn out process that doesn’t end up anywhere.
This reminds me a lot of what it’s like to be in school. Imagine if a professor never gave you deadlines on your assignments. You’d probably wait all semester long to do your assignments, and then right before the class was done for the semester, you’d do everything super quickly and not care if it was done with excellence. But when you space things out and have specific deadlines, you create urgency to find solutions.
2. Allow Other Leaders to Feel the Weight
Take the circle of leaders that surround you and allow them to feel the problem. Allow them to get hands on with your organization’s current issues and put their brain power behind it. When other people are able to understand and see the issue at hand, they can better help contribute to the solution. Believe it or not, you don’t know everything, and are limited by your own personality and life experiences. Give trusted leaders a chance to speak into the situation and help find solutions.
I recently took my team leads to an “Escape Room,” which requires you to solve different puzzles in order to escape the room. Out of the 10 people that I took, you wouldn’t believe how many different viewpoints it took to solve one problem. Many times we had someone looking at a problem for too long, and realized that we needed to give the puzzle to someone else with fresh eyes. Different people see things in different ways.
3. Say Yes
Too many times I’ve told people too quickly that things can’t be done. I look at a problem briefly, and haphazardly tell someone it can’t be done. And in a lot of situations, at first glance, it can’t be done. But that’s not what leaders should do.
Average leaders are ok with saying something can’t be done, but great leaders are pressed to find a solution and not become complacent. Rather than thinking that something can’t be done, say yes and search out every possible solution. Better yet, make a solution. Make something happen. Go where no one has gone before and blaze the trail for something new to happen in your ministry. Ask God for wisdom, guidance, and resources, and then go and make something happen.
In the end, great leadership comes down to doing what others won’t do. It involves doing the right thing consistently. It takes seeing an obstacle in the road and making it a step that elevates your influence for God’s Kingdom.
Adam Jones is the location pastor for Next Level Church's Salisbury, MA location. Adam graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a BA in Youth Ministry. When he's not meeting with people from his location or pastoring his volunteer teams, Adam can be found playing volleyball, going camping, or writing. He and his wife, Maribeth, live in Portsmouth, NH.