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What Is The Real Problem?

Joe McAlpine
Joe McAlpine Wednesday July 20, 2016
<? echo $type; ?> What Is The Real Problem?

When the people we serve face challenges and difficulties they will often turn to us to navigate them to solutions that will work.

I got into ministry for the same reason many do: I want to help people. I want to guide them, and show them things that they didn’t know they didn’t know about who God is and how He can be the source of everything they need in life. It didn’t take me long, though, to figure out that the trials people face in life don’t always present themselves at face value. Relationship issues might have nothing to do with the relationship but instead will be rooted in a person’s insecurity. Productivity problems might not be the product of laziness or disorganization but instead a gross imbalance of expectations.

I learned through my time as a leader that the problems we all face many times need a deeper look so we can truly understand what is going on before we search for solutions. We don’t want to just treat symptoms . . . we want to solve the problem.

So, when a problem presents itself to you how do you get to the root of it? What steps do you take and what questions do you ask? I have found a tool that I often use called the “5 Whys” Simply put, you identify a problem and then ask five “why” questions. Usually after asking why five times, you will find the root of the problem. Here is an example…

  1. Q: Why are so many people entering our second Sunday service late? A: Because they aren’t giving themselves enough time to get into the church.
  2. Q: Why don’t they have enough time to get into the church? A: Because they can’t find a parking spot and that delays them.
  3. Q: Why can’t they find a parking spot? A: Because there are still too many people from the first service parked in the lot.
  4. Q: Why are there still people parked in the lot from first service when second service people are arriving? A: Because first service didn’t dismiss on time.
  5. Q: Why didn’t first service dismiss on time? A: Because the pastor spoke too long and the announcements went too long.

FOUND THE PROBLEM! The pastor spoke too long and there were too many announcements and that caused the service to let out late, which in turn delayed people getting into the church for second service. Now all you have to do is solve the problem!

I have found that asking a minimum of five “why” questions about a problem often will help me and others get to the root of the problem. In the example above, it could be easy to just get frustrated with people for being late and ask them to try and arrive earlier so they aren’t disruptive. However, that would only keep the problem and frustration continuing because it doesn’t solve the root problem.

I want to encourage you to always be searching and digging for the deeper problem as you navigate the journey of leadership. Your ability to ask questions and listen to the answers will have a great impact on your influence as a leader.

Joe McAlpine has been in ministry for over a decade, serving in staff leadership at churches ranging in attendance from 500 to 7,000. In 2015, Joe joined the team at Slingshot Group and works toward helping great churches connect with great teams. Joe has been happily married to his wife Christy for longer than he can remember and has four children, Elijah, Selah, David, and Elisabeth. In his spare time, you can find him hanging with the family and playing his ukulele.