The Other Side of the Equation

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Listen to the news, a conversation at work, or even around the ball field and it isn’t uncommon to hear the statement; “The problem is…”

Fill in the blank with any kind of issue from workplace to home to youth today to marriage to really just about anything. Problems, problems, problems. It’s hard not to grow discouraged when all you hear anyone talk about is all that’s wrong.

Why do problems exist? It’s easy to lay the responsibility at the feet of people, society, government, selfishness, etc. But sometimes problems can be far simpler. When you are hungry and there is no food around to eat, that’s a problem. From something as simple as a sandwich to topics far more complicated, when we want anything and there is no immediate way to meet that desire, a problem exists.

But what about the other side of the equation? Solutions come as we discover how to meet those needs. At the base of all those needs, are our desires. Some good, some bad. Problems are rooted in desires, so it is not a huge stretch to say that the problems I see are rooted in me. When Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan He was calling the audience’s attention to not only who took action, but exposed that their own inaction was rooted in themselves.

So how do we change the tenor of our conversation where we move from describing the problem to speaking of the solution? The beginning of that change is with our own perspective. In the book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller makes the point that “Only you have complete access to your own selfishness, and only you have complete responsibility for it.” That means the only person’s selfishness we can control is our own.

Wow. The solution to the problem starts with me. Change starts with one, it starts with me. So when you hear people discussing problems, you have to recognize the first place to start is with yourself. If you don’t like what you see in your children, start with you. If you don’t like what you see in your church, start with you. If you don’t like what you see in your community and work place, start with you. You can be a part of the solution, so take action.

So, here are some suggestions on how to take action:

  • Be accountable – That means tell others what action you are going to take. By telling others, it makes it harder to back out of what you want to do.
  • Be willing to discuss the “how’s” rather than the “what if’s” – Pretending doesn’t really get you anywhere, it also wastes time and prevents you from starting. When you think about how, it changes your perspective from negative to positive.
  • Start where you are. Maybe your mission field is to bring the Gospel to China. Or you want to see cancer cured. Or you want to be a part of changing the lives of youth and their families. No matter how big a problem you want to solve, you have to start where you are and you do that by starting with one. Confidence grows over time.
  • Start small. Every step you take doesn’t have to be massive. You simply have to start by taking small steps and repeating them over and over again.
  • Nurture ideas, take action. Ideas are important but they are also easy. They only become significant when put to action.
  • Be excited. Why would anyone get behind something if you are not excited about it? Excitement builds confidence, changes perspective, but most of all, it’s contagious.

Change starts with one, it starts with you. If you are tired of hearing people speak of the problems, be a part of changing the tone of the conversation. Move the discussion from the problems to asking what the solution is. The whole atmosphere will change from negative to positive. Be a part of change! Take action today and start with you.

PAYH Staff

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