WHEN PROBLEMS ARE COMPLEX, SOLUTIONS ARE SIMPLE
It is a myth that complex problems require complex solutions! The problem with complex problems is when they involve you. Because when they do it feels like you are trying to deal with unrelated problem after unrelated problem while already dealing with a problem that you already just can’t deal with. This is why getting another perspective is often the first step to coming out of the fog. But someone might disagree with this because they feel they do have a different perspective of the most complex problems they are trying to solve because they are not ones not of their own making. This is especially the case when such complexities involve family or people we deeply care about. I’d like to offer some advice.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
PRINCIPLE #1 : THE HEART OF THE SERPENT
In Greek Mythology, the giant serpent-like creature, Hydra, with its nine heads, had defeated all-comers. Then Hercules came along. Each of Hydra’s other opponents had been distracted by its multiple heads. Hercules, however, knew that if he attacked the heart of Hydra, he could defeat it. This is a great illustration of how to begin tackling what appears to be complex problems: nine-headed problems don’t always need nine solutions – often they can be solved with just one solution.
For example, a business may be losing customers, struggling with cash-flow pressure, trying to manage demotivated staff, and complying with regulatory authorities. By tackling the heart of the problem, each of these symptoms of the real problem could be solved. Sometimes the real problem lies with the owner of the business neglecting their family which sets off a chain of events including grumpiness when they get to work which staff interpret as ungraciousness which causes them to treat customers poorly, which leads to a loss of sales which leads to a cash-flow crises. Jesus had something to say to such business-people about where they should focus their efforts.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [that you are worrying about] will be added to you.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
PRINCIPLE #2 : STOP MAKING ASSUMPTIONS
Complex problems always involve other people. These people could be the family members, friends, staff, colleagues, or leaders. People have a knack for letting others down. They also have a knack for letting themselves down! When trying to help someone else, don’t assume that they are already doing the basics. The thing I have noticed about great problem solvers who tackle complex problems is that they start with the basics. For example, up until the late 1800s it was common for pregnant women to die during child-birth. Medical scientists worked on all kinds of solutions with no success. The problem continued into the twentieth century until someone read a paper which Blaise Pascal had written addressing the problem. Pascal theorised that something we now call bacteria could be transmitted via unwashed hands into a skin breach on another person which could variously result in that person being infected by that bacteria. This bacterial infection, Pascal theorised, was the cause of so many women dying during child-birth. If doctors and assisting nurses would only wash their hands with soap and warm water, much the problem could be averted, Pascal claimed. But his ideas were rejected and mocked by the medical establishment. Not until someone read his paper in the early 20th century and decided to put his ideas to the test was Pascal proved right! From that point the numbers of women dying during child-birth plummeted! This complex problem was unnecessarily prolonged because people made some bad assumptions. Someone may be encountering financial pressure. Don’t assume that they have curbed their spending. Don’t assume that they are tithing (something that even secular financial gurus like Robert Kiyosaki strongly advice). Don’t assume they are exercising delayed-gratification.
¶ Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
PRINCIPLE #3 : DON’T ACCEPT THE TRANSFER A PROBLEM’S OWNERSHIP
People with complex problems love to share ownership of their problems – and if you’ll let them, they’ll even transfer ownership of their problems to you! Parents of adult children are especially vulnerable to this illicit transfer of problem ownership.
They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Of course, there are times when we can practically help someone dealing with a problem which is beyond them. God commands us to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) – not own one another’s burdens.
PRINCIPLE #4 : ACCEPT THE ULTIMATE OFFER OF HELP
We are meant to live dependently and inter-dependently. We are meant to be dependent upon God. We look to Him in prayer for help with each problem we face.
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
Not matter how complex our difficulties, He invites us to cast our cares onto Him – which may require us humbling ourselves.
¶ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
First Peter 5:6-7
Even if you feel that the problems you are facing are too complex, there is probably a simple solution. This will require facing reality and forsaking assumptions. It will mean an end to blaming and the beginning to praying. Because complex problems really do not always need complex solutions.
Give the insight I need to see how I can get through this, or help the ones I love to get through their problems.
Please give me wisdom and strength to walk and work with You.
May I become more like Christ to those around me and less like the person I’ve been.
I ask this in the Name of Your Only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ,