A Biblical Pattern for Problem Solving

As Pastoral leaders, we often encounter a myriad of problems that test our resilience, problem-solving skills, and ability to adapt. Whether they arise in our personal lives, academic pursuits, or mission endeavors, ministry problems can be daunting. However, by understanding and embracing a Biblical pattern of problem-solving, we can navigate these hurdles with greater confidence.

Here are five steps for problem-solving based on the life of Moses.

  1. Engage Reality. The first step in addressing any problem is acknowledging its existence. Instead of avoiding or denying the problems we face, it is crucial to engage the reality of the situation. In Exodus, Moses was seeking to lead and protect Israel. But he had to face the reality of his failure when he murdered an Egyptian, a failure that resulted in a greater risk to his own people. In our ministries, we encounter problems that are beyond our ability, and it is vital we recognize this reality. My favorite quote on this topic comes from Max Depree in The Art of Leadership where he writes: “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality”. What is a seemingly impossible problem you are facing in your ministry?
  2. Escape Pressure: When faced with a problem, it can be tempting to fixate on the negative aspects. Seeking perspective, however, allows us to broaden our understanding and find alternate viewpoints. It may seem counterintuitive, but seeking perspective is facilitated when pressure is minimized. Moses may have been escaping Egypt to save his own life, but spending time in the wilderness also relieved the tension and enabled him to gain perspective. Author, Robert Fritz, in the book, Your Life as Art, recommends looking at problem solving through the image of a rubber band in tension. “In the beginning of our creative process there is a contrast between our desired state (our vision of the outcome we want to create) and our current situation (where we are now in relationship to that outcome). If we are successful, at the end of the creative process the desired state and the current state are the same, ending the contrast and resolving the tension.” Consider how you will escape pressure in order to seek perspective.
  3. Embrace the “Aha”.  As a pastor, I found the development of sermons to be a repeating problem or challenge. Author, Eugene Lowry in his book, The Homiletical Plot, writes about the “Aha” moment in sermons but there is also an “Aha” moment in developing sermons. When you have the “Aha”, the whole project of preparation shifts from finding the idea to developing the idea. Moses was given one of the greatest “Aha” moments in history at the ‘Burning Bush.’ The impossible problem of liberating Israel shifted from Moses having no solution to knowing the path for success. God is the one who solves our problems when we engage reality and escape pressure giving God space to meet us and show us the way forward. Pray for God to show you solutions with Moses-style ‘Aha’ moments.
  4. Execute the insurmountable with courage. Moses received his instructions at the burning bush, but he still had to act in obedience and respond to God’s guidance. He still faced multiple setbacks, but he endured because God provided the solution to the problem. As pastoral leaders, it is our privilege to act once God shows us the path either through His Word, one of His saints, or through the Holy Spirit. Rather than viewing setbacks as failures, perceive them as learning opportunities. What is an action you can take today in obedience to God’s direction?
  5. Enjoy The New Reality. Too often as Pastors, we experience victory over a problem or challenge and don’t take time to celebrate. When Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, it was a time of celebration. The songs of triumph were sung and recorded for all time. This is the value of testimony and taking time to witness to brothers and sisters in Christ. God is sovereign and He is our problem solver when we follow His Biblical pattern. Take time today to celebrate a problem God has solved through you and for you by giving a public testimony this week.

For more information on the resources in this Five to Thrive see the following:

DePree, Max. Leadership Is an Art. Doubleday Business, 2004.

Fritz, Robert. Your Life as Art. Newfane Press, 2003.

Lowry, E. L. (2000). The homiletical plot. Westminster John Knox Press.

Intellectual contributor: Dr. Eric Hallett, district superintendent of the Central Canada District of The Wesleyan Church.

Executive editor: Johanna Rugh

Curator of content: Carla Working