Problem-solving is in the “DNA” of effective leadership.
So how come sometimes it just doesn’t work? Why is it that some attempts at problem-solving feel like you’re just butting your head into a brick wall? Why do some of the best-intentioned problem-solving initiatives just fall flat?
Sometimes it’s because, right out of the gate, you haven’t properly sized up the problem you’re about to tackle.
I have so much for which to be thankful. God has blessed me immeasurably, none of which I deserve. If my ministry were to end today through death or disability, I could only praise Him for the life and ministry He gave me.
But I am assuming I have a few more years left in ministry. And this point in my life is both a time of reflection and looking forward. I want this fourth quarter of my ministry to make a difference for His glory. To be clear, I want to avoid seven dangers in my last years of ministry. And I know I can succumb to any and all of these dangers without His strength, His mercy, and His plan.
I like to think of myself as a nice guy, but what I’ve learned is that I sometimes have to choose between the productive conversation and the one where everyone likes me. That doesn’t mean I’m a jerk (hopefully); it just means I aim for a clear conversation over a congenial conversation when I have to choose. If you have an extra dose of people-pleaser in you, this will always be extra hard.
Sure, there are some people who love conflict (maybe a little too much). But if you’re not in that category, it’s worth taking the time to consider how to have a hard conversation. Dissolving a partnership, rebuking a co-worker, firing an employee, correcting over-spending. You could add your own topic to the list, but you get the idea—conversations that may cut and spill some blood (metaphorically speaking, of course). In other words, there will be some pain, agony, and negative emotions spilling out.
It’s always ideal to lean into grace and give the benefit of the doubt. However, one thing is for sure; if you allow things to remain unclear, unresolved, and unproductive for too long, morale will decline. What was a subtle question will become a blatant problem. We have to do everything we can to stay out in front.
The dangerous factor here is that even though there is nothing blatant, and in fact it’s difficult to get a handle on the real issue, it’s easy to allow one person to adversely impact the whole team.
I am the pastor of a small to medium-sized rural church. Nothing about us is mega. We aren’t cutting edge. We still do Sunday School, have a meet-and-greet, and have kids come down front during the Sunday morning service for a children’s sermon. I’m sure that there are things that we do that would make church growth experts cringe.
But we are still a part of the body of Christ.
And so is the church 30 minutes up the road where there are more people in the youth ministry than there are in our sanctuary on a Sunday morning.