How to Be a Problem-Solving Leader

Want to test the measure of a leader? Throw a problem at him or her.

Most people, when they come face to face with a problem, immediately look for someone else to solve it. We all start out that way. As children, when problems came our way, we called for our mamas. And that was completely appropriate for a child—but not for a leader. It’s a follower mentality. Leaders respond differently when facing a problem. They act to solve it. Those sorts of people are like Daniel.

Here’s how Daniel’s described in Daniel 5:12: “This man Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems.”

Daniel had a reputation for being able to solve problems. It’s a reputation you want to earn, too. But before we talk about how to solve problems, there are a couple things you need to know about problems…

Not all problems are bad.

I often hear ministry workers wish they lived problem-free lives. Well, there are people who have a problem-free existence…but they’re all dead. The only people I know who don’t deal with challenges like stress, budgets, and relationships are stretched out in the cemetery. Notice I said “challenges” rather than “problems.” That’s no accident. I’ve found that some things I considered problems turned out to be tremendous blessings. They’re the very situations that helped me grow and changed my life for the better. Whatever problems you face in ministry, decide to view them not just as problems but also as challenges God wants to help guide you through. That attitude keeps you teachable—and invites God’s guidance.

You may look back at the problems in your life right now and thank God for them because they caused you to grow. And here’s why…

Some problems prepare you to handle more.

Problems season you, and prepare you for more responsibility.

When David walked out to face Goliath it wasn’t the first time he’d fought a larger enemy. He’d already bested a lion and a bear. Goliath might be carrying a spear, but David knew he could place a rock in just the right place to drop the giant. David had faced down big, hairy problems before.

Think about your life. How many of the problems you’ve faced were just training? Warm-ups that prepared you for a larger problem that followed?

Some problems are tremendous learning opportunities.

I remember the day we decided to start a puppet ministry at my church. I’d never held a puppet before, but my roommate was on a college puppet team. My friend walked us through what we needed to know. And I took really good notes, because the next week I was going to be in charge. From Absolute Ignoramus to Mister Director in one week—quite a transformation. But that ministry was successful. If I’d seen my lack of experience as a problem, it would have stopped me cold. Instead, I saw it as a challenge, and in the process of overcoming it I learned a new skill. What current challenges are teaching you something new?

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Jim Wideman is an internationally recognized voice in children’s and family ministry. He is a much sought after speaker, teacher, author, personal leadership coach, and ministry consultant who has over 30 years experience in helping churches thrive. Jim created the Children’s Ministers Leadership Club in 1995 that is known today as "theClub" which has touched thousands of ministry leaders each month. Jim believes his marching orders are to spend the rest of his life taking what he has learn about leadership and ministry and pour it into the next generation of children’s, youth, and family ministry leaders.