Joshua Gagnon

thoughts on Jesus, leadership, and the Church.

Ep 170: Problem-Finders vs Problem-Solvers

Welcome to the 170th episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast!

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You can read the full transcription of this episode below.


Roman Archer: Well welcome to another episode of the Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast. I’m here today with my friend and boss, Pastor Josh. How are you doing today?

Joshua Gagnon: Doing well, Romeo Archer.

R: Romeo Archer. I’ll take it. I’ll take it

J: Remember we talked about in one of the episodes why you’re named Roman Archer? Well, I know why you’re named Archer (laughs)

R: Roman Archer.

J: Roman is a football player, right?

R: Roman Gabriel. The Los Angeles Rams.

J: (laughs)

R: I don’t know, this is way back, but I think I live up to the name. As far as my athletic ability.

J: Yeah. (laughs) No comment. No comment.

R: Well, hey, we’ve got a conversation we’re going to have today on today’s episode, a thought that you encouraged our team with, our entire staff. At times, you’ll give these talks to different pockets of our team, whether it be the location pastors or department directors. This is actually a talk that you gave to our entire staff, and it was...I don’t remember if this was right before Easter or right after Easter, or when you had this talk, I don’t even know what made you think of this talk. Maybe a little bit of context of how you came across this thought before we dive into it.

J: I’m doing some construction work at my house and one of the people that are there often bring problems to me, and I often…

R: One of the contractors, you’re saying?

J: Let’s just say one of the people there, often bring problems to me. And they tell me the problem. And they make kind of a big deal about it. And I listen to them while they’re telling me the problem and the entire time they’re telling me the problem, I sit there and think, I hired you...

R: ...to fix the problem.

J: To fix the problem. And there’s like a pause waiting for me to give the answer. And this was happening a few times the day before I had this thought.

R: Yeah.

J: And it was over a phone call, they would use my wife’s phone to call me.

R: Okay.

J: And so on the phone there was this long pause whenever they would tell me the problem. And I would literally say, okay.

R: Who’s the expert here? You’re waiting for them to...

J: Yeah, I would just wait, okay, and there’s space. And I would say, “So what do you want to do?” And they’d say, “I don’t know, what do you think?” And so this happened for an entire day and I was getting so frustrated. And for many of the people that listen, you guys, when you’re in ministry or a public figure, people know you so you can’t just tell them, listen, I hired you to do a job, I’m kind of stuck between, you know, a rock and a hard place, you know? Cause I also want to make sure that I continue to remain calm when I have reasons to not be. So the next morning the same thing happened. And I was thinking to myself, man, how in the world can this person be hired to do a job, hired to be the leader of this problem? I hired you to lead me through the problem, to fix it. And yet you continuously just bring it to my attention, look at me with a blank face and ask me what to do. And I thought, and that’s when I shot the video. If you remember I shot a video for our entire staff.

R: Yep. You do these videos often just right from your phone and then we’ll post them. We use Slack, which we talked about before, and we post them to All Staff and they can comment and leave reactions and those sort of things.

J: Leaders do something about problems, they don’t just notice problems. And that’s really the heartbeat of that video. That’s the heartbeat of this podcast, and it seems really simplistic. Leaders do something they don’t just talk about it. It seems like, well of course. But when you look at culture and leadership, when you look at ministry worlds, when you even look at regular jobs, secular jobs, or what would you call them? Mainstream jobs?

R: Workplace, the marketplace.

J: Marketplace, that’s the word I was looking for. When you look at it, you find a lot of people that are put into positions when they’re supposed to be making decisions and solving problems, yet they’re just professional problem finders. And I was telling our staff that the reason you’ve been put in a position of leadership is not to just be a person who finds problems but you’ve been put into a position of leadership that solves problems, and I tied it into the story of David and Goliath. Cause I’m a pastor, you kind of have to do that.

R: It’s not a truth unless you have Scripture to back it. In the church world, unless you have a verse…

J: You just throw out a verse, even if it’s out of context.

R: Chapter and verse.

J: Just throw out a chapter and verse. It doesn’t matter if it’s contextually correct, just put it out  there. So I did David and Goliath because the other thing is everybody, every preacher, every ministry leader knows that you can find something in the story of David and Goliath.

R: Yeah.

J: If you don’t know where to go, go there, right? You can find pain, you can find victory, you can find anything. So I talked to our team just quickly about how David went to the same battlefield that all the other soldiers were on.

R: And these were men, these were warriors.

J: These were supposed to be problem-solvers.

R: Trained soldiers.

J: And David shows up there, and the only difference between David and everybody else, we can step outside of this God-appointed moment and talk about just this raw reality of people on the battlefield. The difference is David was willing to do something about a problem that everybody else wanted to talk about. Everybody else noticed the problem but David said I’m going to do something about the problem. And really that’s why we have this story. That David showed up on a battlefield while everybody else was talking, was whispering, was complaining, was arguing. Everybody else was pointing out four steps to overcoming Goliath, everybody else is pointing out the reasons why we can’t overcome Goliath. Everybody else is pointing out how six years ago, when we faced this other warrior, do you remember what happened then? Everybody else is pointing out how it’s dividing our camp and everybody else is pointing out all sorts of points, right? And I think sometimes in leadership, we feel like we’re leaders just because we can come up with three strategies. Maybe we need to think through this, this, and this. Or, hey do you guys notice this problem? The problem’s Goliath and he’s really tall, and he’s really big, and what we need to do is we need to make sure we’re focused on Goliath. We need to make sure that we understand that he’s taunting us. And leaders, we almost find out credibility in the reality that we can find problems and we can talk about the problems. But too many leaders are stuck in the conversation about the problem and not correcting the problem. We’re stuck in conversation, but we’re not stuck in correction. And so David shows up and he said, What are you guys even talking about? What’s the problem, man? What are you guys sitting around talking? Let’s just go beat this clown. Let’s just move forward and do something about it. Let’s get knocked out or knock ‘em out. On some level, we’re leaders. We can’t just live our life talking about it.

R: Sit here seeing the problem. You had a group of experts on the sideline that were fearful because of all the statistics and then you’ve got this amateur, this rookie that shows up, that not only noticed the problem but was willing to offer a solution. And his solution got laughed at, but it ended up being the solution that ended up working.

J: Yeah. And I mean, when you look even in, and this is many of our listeners, are in ministry, and we get frustrated at times about people sitting in seats.

R: Yeah.

J: Or even people on our teams, because they sit around and complain about the problems, right? Why do we get frustrated? Because in life we don’t want to just be surrounded by people with ketchup and mustard on their face, complaining about everybody on the field. We want to be surrounded by people who are willing to get out on the field and tackle. Get out on the field and bring solutions. And so the truth is is the reason leaders exist is because Goliaths are present. That’s why leaders exist. If we didn’t need leaders to overcome Goliaths, then we could just create committees to talk about Goliaths.

R: Yeah.

J: But committees talk about Goliaths, leaders overcome Goliaths. And that’s the difference in that philosophy, in my opinion. And it’s not that we need planning. I think some of our listeners and of course, we, as well need to ask questions like, what do we need to put in place to overcome Goliath? That is, of course, leadership. Those that plan to fail…

R: Fail to plan.

J: Fail to plan, plan to fail. I started that backwards. (laughs) So we ask what problems need to be solved? What resolution can we bring to the problem? What steps need to take place, right? I think that that’s all good.

R: Yeah. And there are Goliaths everywhere.

J: Yeah.

R: Anybody can spot the Goliath. It’s being willing to tackle the problem and that’s where leaders come in. And I think the interesting thing, and maybe one of the reasons you were so annoyed with this contractor construction worker is because we have created a culture on our staff where you can’t just bring up problems without bringing solutions. You will quickly be kind of cornered in as to if someone brings a problem and it’s their area, we say, well what are you going to do about it? We want solutions to be brought. And then maybe one of the reasons you were so annoyed is because in the context of our leadership team, we don’t allow them to just be problem finders, they have to be problem solvers.

J: Yeah. And so I would just challenge our listeners that make sure that you are a person who when you’re spotting the Goliaths, you don’t just talk about them and quiver, shake, feel overwhelmed and confused, but you have the leadership ability to now go do something about the Goliath.

R: Yeah.

J: Even if it’s hard, even if it's staring back at you and intimidating you. The other thing I would say is create a team under you, if you’re leading a team of people who are not allowed to just talk about Goliaths. They’re not allowed to talk about Goliaths. They’re allowed to bring up a problem only with the understanding that they’re going to have the solution to the problem or at least go do something about the problem next. And I think that’s that culture that says, we’re not just in the business, quote unquote, of finding problems, we’re in the business of being leaders, and leaders overcome problems. Leaders do something about the problems that other people notice. That’s why there is such thing as leadership.

R: Yep. We were even having a conversation with someone on our team this past week and bringing up some questions that we had about a potential Goliath and they weren’t sure what to do. And we even said, listen, it’s okay to not know what to do, but you’ve got to ask the right questions to know what answers you’re looking for, and to be willing to go find that out. I think so many times we get paralyzed, the thought of the Goliath, we don’t have the answer in the moment, we stay stuck in that mode, opposed to, like you’re saying, having that hunger and that humility to say, I don’t have the answer, I don’t have the solution yet, but I’m going to find it.

J: Yeah, Goliath might be not enough kids volunteers, the Goliath might be not enough people serving altogether, the Goliath might be not enough resources, the Goliath might…

R: A space issue.

J: Not enough space. The Goliath might be people are unhappy with the vision. The Goliath could be all sorts of different things. Make sure you’re not just complaining about it, going to bed shaking about it, but every morning you’re getting up, noticing that the Goliaths are taunting, but they cannot just sit there and speak, and you’re not just going to look at them while they talk. You’re going to make decisions today that help defeat Goliaths tomorrow. I think that movement in leadership is very very important because stagnant leadership really isn’t leadership at all.

R: That’s good. That’s good. I think that’s a great place to end this conversation. Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts and ideas that you shared with our team with our listeners.