How to think like a problem solver?

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Life is filled with choices and decisions. Learning to process and think through a situation is a critical life skill. Good decisions don’t just happen, it is a learned skill.

Would you prefer to listen to the teaching?

Learning to think like a problem solver is one of my goals for sure. Solving problems is necessary for real life sucess. It doesn’t come natural for me, so I have had to learn from some of the greats.

“Things Work Out Best For Those Who Make The Best Of How Things Work Out.” John Wooden

“Fix It!” has always been Wayne’s motto.

My husband, Wayne, can fix anything…OK almost anything…but his list of things he can fix is pretty impressive. 

His family lived in a small rural town in Mississippi. His dad used his GI Bill to buy mules to pull stumps out of the woods so he could sell them to a turpentine plant. When he realized he couldn’t make enough money to take care of his family he became a sharecropper. 

When Wayne was 9 years old his dad moved his family to Mobile where he found a job recapping tires. They lived in a small house in the projects. His mom and dad worked really hard, but there was no money for extras. The other kids had bikes, but that was a luxury his family couldn’t afford. So he found old damaged bikes and pieces of bikes in people’s trash. He salvaged enough parts to make one whole bike. His desire helped him develop thinking skills that made him an effective problem solver and God honoring employee, husband, dad and neighbor. 

Solution Minded

His childhood challenges fueled a life long process of solution-minded thinking. Wayne is a great problem solver. His pattern of thinking in its simplest form is something like this.

  1. What is the problem? No light.
  2. What is the root of the problem? The lamp is unplugged.
  3. How do I fix the problem? Plug in the lamp.

Let’s build on that simple foundation.

Mr. Roger’s taught children a very important principle. “When you experience a disaster or something bad happens always look for the helper.” I whole-heartedly agree, especially when you realize the best helper is Precious Holy Spirit. 

A Good Trigger Instead

Problems can trigger a myriad of emotions. I want to encourage you to use your problem to trigger a different response…instead of panicking or becoming overwhelmed-call on God.

Ask God for His wisdom. Allow Him to be your first responder. He promised He would be with you, so talk to Him first. Ask for help. I’m not suggesting fancy words or long prayers-just honest ones.

Prayer gives you access to all God’s resources.

6 Steps Think Like A Problem Solver Strategy

  1. Ask God for wisdom.
  2. Quiet your heart.
  3. Find the real problem?
  4. What are some possible solutions?
  5. Decide, “What is the right/best thing to do?”
  6. Do it.

Quiet your heart. 

Maybe you have a strategy that works for you, but when I feel anxious or overwhelmed I whisper His name…Jesus. Jesus. (Then I slowly and quietly whisper something like this from my heart.)You are the prince of peace. I ask for your peace to flood my heart.

  1. Get the facts. It helps me to grab a piece of paper and write out my thoughts. 
  2. What is the real problem?
  3. What are some possible solutions?
  4. Access God’s wisdom. Like a seed, His wisdom contains the power to accomplish what needs to be done. Ask God to give you insight, wisdom, and answers. What does God’s Word say about this situation?
  5. Seek wisdom. Who knows about this kind of problem? Can you read their book or talk to them? Do you have a safe friend that can pray with you or give you some advice? Ask God to show you what your right next step should be.  John 16:24 “You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” 
  6. Think about possible solutions. Decide what you are going to do. Then do it!!!
  7. What can/did you learn in this situation?


Think, Think, Think,

“Some minds are like concrete thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.” Alfred E. Newman

“Some minds are like concrete thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.” Alfred E. Newman

Be careful! It’s a cute little quote, but that is the kind of thinking that makes folks terrible problem solvers. Solving problems brings change. Change is painful, but necessary to grow.

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”

Sometimes thinking different means you have to gather the right information. If you are making a medical decision then you need to know the facts about the condition you are facing. You also need to know what the options are and what the side effects or consequences of that option.

The same thing is true if you are trying to make a decision about a job or buying a house. You need accurate information so you can think through the information to make informed and good decisions.

Some suggestions to help you think different

  • What do you need to learn? 
  • What needs to change? 
  • Do you need to change? (Beware. Attitudes, prejudices, past experiences can affect how you think.)
  • Do you need to repent to God or apologize to someone?

Dr. Henry Cloud said in Secrets of God 

“Mature people learn from their problems. Immature people repeat their problems.”

Make an action plan and follow through with the necessary actions. 

This one is so important yet so few people do this one.

Believe that you can make a wise choice.

whether you think you can or think you can't you are right henry ford

“Whether You Think You Can Or Think You Can’t, You’re Right.”- Henry Ford

Have you seen this version of Philippians 4:13? It has become my favorite. 

Philippians 4:13 AMPC  I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].”

Mix with faith.

You don’t question a recipe when it tells you to mix liquid into the dry ingredients to make a cake. When you spoon the thick batter in cake pans and shove them into the oven, you know you are going to eat some delicious cake when it is done.

Yet somehow, when it comes to receiving God’s promises, it seems we are missing a step. Could it be that we aren’t mixing faith with the promise?

Hebrews 4:2 KJV For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

The author is saying mix the gospel with faith so that you have a new and improved compound. The batter is better when baked to make cake. 

Don’t miss this!

When you see a promise in Scripture, you must mix it with faith; faith that is birthed out of knowing and trusting God to receive the fulfillment of that promise. Pay attention to God’s Word, give it supreme authority and priority in your life. Believe what it says and let it soak into your mind, heart and spirit so it shapes your beliefs and builds your faith to receive from God. 

I hope you’ll make this your prayer and faith declaration for today. I think like a problem solver.

I’m praying for you. I really appreciate you listening and reading my podcast. I love you. God bless you!

Big Take Away– Do you tackle problems like a bulldog or someone being chased by a bulldog? Problems and pain really can be the building materials for the bridge to your dream. Change the way you think about your problem.

This article is part of a series on what the Bible says about your thoughts.

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