What (Who) Is the Problem?

When I come into a group with conflict, I find people want quick relief. To get that, we have to believe the problem is easy to understand and will be easy to fix.

When you see a serious problem in your group (family, church, business, or softball team), how do you proceed? In the Dale Carnegie class, I learned four problem-solving questions that have helped in several situations:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What are the causes of the problem?
  3. What are possible solutions?
  4. What is the best possible solution?

One way to try to get it fixed is to change the first question from “What is the problem?” to “Who is the problem?”. If we can find the person causing the problem, and convert or eliminate him or her, we’ve solved the problem. This is the starting point of “death wishes for leaders.” Have you heard the statement, “I’ll tell you what it’s gonna take to get this church (business, club) straightened out — a few good funerals!”? [tweetthis]I’ll tell you what it’s gonna take to get this church straightened out—a few good funerals![/tweetthis]

If that’s true, do you want to see the church get straightened out? How soon? Whom do you want to see die in the next few weeks?

Is there a better approach to see the church grow than wishing people dead?

It’s my understanding from decades of observation and some Bible study that if a problem is chronic (more than a few weeks old), there’s more than one person “causing” the problem. “Fixing” one person by changing or eliminating him/her will only change where the problem presents itself.

The second proposed way to get quick relief from a problem is to preach a sermon on forgiveness and tell everyone to immediately forgive every one of everything – during the invitation song as we stand and sing. That should cure all ills.

Yet, I’ve noticed the person who needs to be “fixed” fails to get the message. Often people who have been abused for years come forward to be restored and to forgive. But the problem remains.

That solution also disregards Jesus’ instruction in Luke 17:3, “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (NKJV). That may take longer than the fourth verse of the invitation song.

In contrast to these two quick solutions to complicated issues, I’ve found it helpful to have a model of how groups work. [tweetthis]Is there a better approach to see the church grow than wishing people dead?[/tweetthis]

The basic principle I’ve learned from Family Systems is to “mind my own business.”

  • Listen before I talk.
  • Learn before I teach.
  • Examine myself before I blame others.

We’ll look at five basic principles of Family Systems to help us ponder what we can do, individually, to help in times of anxiety.

What have you seen or done to help calm the storm?
Please comment below:

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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

One Response to “What (Who) Is the Problem?

  • Jay Ulrich
    8 years ago

    Good thoughts. you are right there is no one fix to the problem. but one good set of rules AS YOU SAID
    we have listen to all sides
    we have to learn what the problem(s) is. NOT JUST THE visual symptoms,
    examine oneself “am I part of the problem”
    What are the solutions?
    which one is the best one?
    Hows are we going to achieve this solution?