top of page

When There Isn’t a Solution

Key Takeaways

1. Some challenges we face are not only beyond our ability to solve but they are also beyond our responsibility to solve. Accepting this truth frees us to focus on things within our control and area of responsibility.

2. When you are unable to find a solution to a challenge it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you or that you failed. Faithfulness is what matters.

I Think I Can I Think

Early in my ministry as a pastor an experienced colleague serving a neighboring congregation invited me for coffee. After exchanging pleasantries, he said,

“In our conversations over these past months I noticed that you seem to believe if you think hard enough you can come up with just the right thing to say or do in response to difficult people and situations. You agonize over finding the perfect words and actions.”

He paused, looking me in the eyes.

“The truth is that just as there are some persons who’ll instantly befriend you there are others who won’t like you no matter how good your ideas or compassionate your approach. Their reasons don’t matter and have nothing to do with you.”

When I didn’t say anything, he continued.

“And there are some problems that you can’t solve. They existed before you got here and will remain after you’re gone. The sooner you accept this the better you’ll feel about yourself and ministry.”

My initial reaction to this unsolicited advice was annoyance. But instead of speaking, I exhaled.

He was right.

Who Do You Think You Are?

I spent time reflecting on my colleague’s observation. I realized I had imagined myself the hero who was going to save the congregation from failure and keep the community intact despite conflicts and grievances.

Take a moment to reflect on the above question. What are some of your answers? Are these expectations of yourself reasonable? Who are you trying to please with these expectations?

Accepting the reality that some persons will reject us and that some problems are beyond our ability to solve frees us from spending energy on people and issues we’d never have a chance to impact no matter how hard we try. Instead, focus your energy and passion on the challenges and people receptive to your ideas who you can impact.

I no longer evaluate results from the binary perspective of success or failure. Instead, I focus on faithfulness. Have I been faithful in the sharing of my gifts? Defining success in terms of faithfulness shifts the emphasis from results to process. Process matters. In fact, I think it matters more than results.

If you’re feeling like you’ve failed or aren’t enough, don’t believe it. Shift your focus to faithfulness over failure. Reclaim your passion and focus on sharing your gifts. Remember, you are enough.

Want to talk through a situation? Schedule a coaching session with me to see if we're a fit and how I might support you as you discern next steps. Until then,

Keep Thriving,


14 views0 comments


bottom of page