Do you know the signs that you are too close to the problem to know that you have a problem? I'm betting we all know this experience in life, right?
"Do these jeans make me look fat?"
"Tell me the truth...would a faux hawk look okay on me?"
"My presentation was good, wasn't it?"
With me? Been there? On the receiving end and the giving end?
Now clearly, one of the major themes here has been the conviction that there really are no problem-free systems, models or strategies. There aren't. I know that. And I think by now you do too. See also, Breaking: No Problem-Free Small Group System, Solution or Strategy.
But while there are no problem-free systems, models or strategies, the pursuit of desired results informs the selection of the set of problems we'd rather have.
And that's where the interest in recognizing the actual problems in our ministries comes from. And that's where the acknowledgement that we can be too close to see ministry problems clearly comes from.
5 signs you are too close to recognize there is a problem:
1. Even though you've already tried a strategy three times, you're going to give it one more try "just to make sure."
This is a dangerous mistake. Remember, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results (Einstein)." If you've tried a strategy more than once and experienced the same results, it's time to rethink the way you are doing what you are doing.
See also, The 5 Biggest Ministry Mistakes I've Made.
2. You refuse to connect results with design and grasp for straws blaming results on flukes.
A classic indication that you are too close to truly see the issue. Remember, "your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing (Andy Stanley)." If you find yourself assigning blame to the weather, the popularity of the local football team or the economy...you're in denial. The design is the problem.
3. Your research indicates you're inadequately prepared to try a new strategy, but you are "praying for God to move."
Obviously, you must have access to unbiased and objective research. That is a given. Still, if after researching a strategy you are willing to go forward in spite of your lack of preparation, you need to take a closer look in the mirror. Remember, "Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others."
Note: This is different than putting off ministry in search of a problem-free solution or strategy. This is poor stewardship and throwing wisdom aside in pursuit of action at any cost.
4. You're hesitant to ask more knowledgable ministry veterans because you "know what they'll say."
This is another extremely dangerous mistake. Yes, there will always be the guardians of the status quo. I'm not suggesting that you go to them for breakthrough ideas. I am suggesting that the time spent asking great questions of ministry veterans is always worthwhile.
There will always be the guardians of the status quo. I'm not suggesting that you go to them for breakthrough ideas. I am suggesting that the time spent asking great questions of ministry veterans is always worthwhile. Click To Tweet
5. You're not asking the right questions.
Sometimes the biggest indication that we are too close to the problem is when we operate with a ready, fire, aim mentality. Instead of spending the required time asking the right questions, we push ahead, eager to get started and overlooking many obvious issues.
Sometimes the biggest indication that we are too close to the problem is when we operate with a ready, fire, aim mentality. Instead of spending the required time asking the right questions, we push ahead, eager to get started and… Click To Tweet
Need more help?
How to Diagnose Your Small Group Ministry is one of my most popular online video courses. This four session course will take you step by step through the methods I use on a regular basis:
- How to determine the win(s) for your small group ministry. Identifying the win(s) at the very beginning will enable you to have eyes to begin to see what might need to be changed.
- How to spot the most important design issues; the flaws in your design that will block success every season. Add this set of tools to your toolbox and you'll see ministry design in an entirely different way.
- How to chart a course that will begin moving your ministry in the right direction. Beyond just learning to spot design issues, learning to skillfully plan the first milestone and choose the lead measures that prove you are on a path to your preferred future is a game-changer.
- How to develop the practice of regular assessment and course correction. This skill will allow you to function both on the ground level with your team and from 10,000 feet identifying necessary design corrections in real time.