Problems. If you’re going to work with or minister to people, you are going to have problems. Sometimes big problems. Moses was one person in the scripture who had people problems. Millions of them. Everywhere he looked – people problems. How to feed them. How to water their livestock. How to settle their petty problems. How to settle their big problems. Where do the tents go? How about the toilets. Everywhere problems.
Surely with all these problems, the solution must be complex. Big problems should mean big, intricate, thoroughly researched and analyzed solutions – right? Not necessarily. In fact, very often, the solution to one’s problem is asymmetric to the problem itself. Big problem, small solution.
When our problem is large or complex, we too often feel that the solution has to be the same. Because of this we usually miss the obvious, simple answer. In Moses’ case, it took his shepherd father-in-law’s simple mind to figure it out. A shepherd understands that a flock can get too big. When it does, it can begin to overgraze the fields and ruin the good pastures. This simple sheepherder was not educated by the most learned teachers of Egypt as Moses was, but he did understand something about having too many sheep in one place. He knew that when you have more sheep in a field than what that field can contain, you have to hire an under-shepherd to take part of the flock to another field. With that elementary laymen’s thinking Moses was able to correct very simply, the extremely complex dilemma the nation of Israel had found herself in. Jethro told Moses to break the number of people down into smaller segments and then place leaders over these small segments. How simple.
The biggest problems that your ministry is facing today probably could very well be corrected with a simple solution. Too often however, we go shopping for the big answer: The complex answer. The expensive answer. The time consuming answer. Here’s why: We focus on the negative instead of the positive. Seriously, nearly everyone does. Did you know that in the English language, 62 percent of the “emotion” words are negative, vs 38 percent that are positive. A group of psychologists once reviewed over two hundred articles and concluded that for a wide range of human behavior and perception, a general principle holds true: “Bad is stronger than good.” Ask yourself, do you remember more of the bad that you hear about others or do you remember more of the good. A vastly larger audience of people remembers the bad instead of the good.
If we are focused on the negative, we seldom see the positive. This is a sad series of events as most often bad is not the only thing that is going on. Very often there is good going on too. Usually, much more good than there is bad. The problem however, is we humans have a tendency to only recognize and focus our energies on the bad. When we do this we fail to recognize what is going on that is right. If we could recognize the right things that are going on, then we may realize that our big problem is not that big at all. In fact, maybe it is dwarfed by the good that is going on.
Moses could only see the small picture of his big problem. He could not see the big picture of his simple solution. Israel had a lot of good going on at that moment. She had a multitude of varied talented people who were easily equipped to assist Moses however he needed. If Moses could have gotten his gaze off of his dilemma long enough to thank God for the good people who were under his leadership, he may have found his solution sooner and possibly without the help of his wife’s father. After all, who wants that hanging over their head, “Hey sonny, I fixed your problem for you.” Moses was an extremely educated man. You have to know he wanted to figure the biggest problem of his entire ministry out for himself.
There is more to celebrate in what you have than there is to grieve in what you don’t have.
When you can identify what is happening that is right you can learn to duplicate that process to bring about change and growth for your church or organization. For instance, let’s say that of the ten varied recognized ministries in your church. Seven are doing well and three of them are doing badly. Our general response to this situation is usually to focus our energies on the ministries that are doing badly in the attempt to get them up to par with the ministries that are doing well. In short, we leave off of the ones that are doing good to help the ones that are doing badly.
Why? Have you ever asked yourself, “Maybe that broken down ministry in your church is not the will of God in the first place. Maybe, it should have been dissolved years ago?” In any event, what you are missing is that something fantastic is happening in a few areas of your church that are worth exploring and replicating. If you could find out what those ministries are that are doing well, you may find what will help the struggling ministries of your church. Could an answer to all the bad that is in your church be as simple as finding, identifying and exploiting the good that is happening? What could happen if we spent all the valuable time that we do focusing on and encouraging the good that is happening in our church instead of getting caught up in the mess of all the bad?
Begin to study, survey and dissect the ministries of your church where good positive growth is happening and you will probably find the answers to the problems that plague the ones that are not doing so well. Focus on your church’s strengths rather than obsessing over its weaknesses.