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Your Problems or Your Purpose: Where Is Your Focus?
How you approach your job or your ministry makes a difference in how effective and helpful you are to the larger goal. Pastor Sutton writes about what being a helpful team member looks like.
When I interview someone for a job, I can usually make a decision within the first five minutes.
In 1997, I started a company that grew from 3 to 380 employees in just a few years. In 2008, I founded another company that grew from 4 people to 500 in just 16 months. Today over 1,000 people work for Khidmah.
For most people in the world, work is a team sport—and ministry is always a team sport. How do you know whether or not someone will be a good addition to your team?
One simple diagnostic question has been helpful for me: Is this person problem-focused or purpose-focused?
Here’s the Problem
Problem-focused people . . .
. . . are paralyzed by problems and fail to find solutions.
. . . are quick to point out problems and criticize anything and anyone—except themselves.
. . . resist good leadership because they perceive it to be a threat.
. . . resist change because they cannot see the benefit of a new direction, only the problems.
. . . take it personally when someone is placed above them in the organizational chart.
. . . never take responsibility for their actions and instead always blame another person or problem.
. . . don't respond to encouragement, don't want supervision, and don't listen to advice because they perceive themselves to be sufficient.
. . . like having other problem-focused people around because they like to sit around, criticize, and talk about problems.
. . . succeed by mistake or by luck, never by effort or planning, because they are more focused on problems than how to overcome them.
. . . bring their problems onto a team.
. . . create more problems, because it gives them something to do: dwell on problems.
Purpose-focused people . . .
. . . approach problems as opportunities to shine, not problems to overcome.
. . . never bring up problems without multiple potential solutions.
. . . focus on their strength. They know what they are good at and seek out opportunities to use their skills.
. . . acknowledge their weaknesses and know the areas where they must improve.
. . . respond to encouragement. Because they understand their own shortcomings, they appreciate knowing that someone believes in them.
. . . remain upbeat and positive because they see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Even in a crisis, they remind others that the end is in sight.
. . . don't mind when someone is placed above them in the organizational chart, and respond by asking, “What can I learn from this person?”
. . . want to learn and get better in everything they do.
. . . love good, supportive leadership because they love to learn and grow. Purpose-focused people will not tolerate poor leaders for long.
. . . are quick to admit when they are in the wrong or the cause of a problem, and are equally quick to fix it.
. . . are slow to take credit.
. . . focus on the success of the mission rather than personal gain, status, or credit. They want to see the objective met and fulfill their purpose in making the greater purpose happen.
. . . like having other purpose-focused people around because they want to be a part of a strong team where everyone's unique strengths add value for the betterment of the whole.
How Can You Tell?
When I ask a potential team member about their strengths and weaknesses, their response is generally a good indicator of whether or not the candidate is focused on problems or a purpose.
Obviously, building trust and assessing character requires more than five minutes. But I hope this concept can be of some use for those of us in leadership and for all of us in need of repentance. We would all be doomed to our problems without God's common grace and Jesus' victory over sin. He gives us hope and calls us to focus on the greatest purpose of all.