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Squeaky Wheel: Focusing on the wins instead of the problems.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV

It was a typical Monday morning, and I was enjoying a cup of coffee with my staff as we discussed the previous weekend’s ministry. We often do this together as the events from Sunday are fresh in our minds. As we met, we talked about the day that included all departments, the service, online ministry, and Life Groups. On this morning, I must have had a case of the mulligrubs (glass half empty focus.) My perspective seemed to be set on what we could do better. For me, if I am not careful, that can be my world. I am a problem solver. I think I know how I received this talent as it most likely came from my father who was a very good lawyer. I have a knack for recognizing potential problems, but if I am not careful, I can easily gravitate to this perspective. It is not that I intend to stay in the “What could go wrong?” vein, but I do if I do not have people with me to help me see the other side. This is why I am thankful for my staff and my wife. They are great bumpers to keep me out of the problem-solving gutter.

As my staff and I were rolling close to the problem solving gutter, my friend, spiritual son and staff court jester, offered a suggestion. He has been with me for a long time and I love doing ministry and life with him. He knows me well, respects and honors me, but loves me so much he speaks truth. We need these people in our lives. His offer was simple. “How about we focus on the wins for a while?” he said. My first thought when I heard this was why in the world would we do that? We were doing so well talking about the problems. Why pause to consider wins? My drive that morning was that we have some areas to clean up, do better, and become more fruitful. Can we talk about the wins later? His words were wisdom and used to bring some constructive pause to our conversation.

We have all heard the phrase, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Yes, it gets the grease because it is making so much stinking noise. Don’t you hear it? Stop the squeak at all costs! That is not always the most constructive thing to do at a given time. If we are constantly bothered by the noise, the enemy will have no problem keeping our lives full of it. Look at the news cycles. Noise! When you go in to find toilet paper at your favorite big box store and you don’t see it. Noise! Go fill up your car or truck with gas and yes, even though you are silent at the pump, inside you are full of noise. Go home and find the dishwasher on the fritz and the list goes on and on and on. Noise! So that is what gets the attention. The noise of our problems, mistakes, failures, and uncertainty of the day we live in squeaks and our attention span becomes one dimensional. Fix the problem is our mantra and we empty ourselves instead of refueling!

So what should we do when the squeaky wheels of life appear?

First, ask yourself what you seem to focus on the most. Is it problems or wins? What gets your attention first? When you hear the squeak, what is your first reaction? Secondly, if problem solving is your go to, start going against the grain. In the middle of the problems, focus on what is going right. What are the wins that you can celebrate? What is the truth about your situation according to God and His Word? Our verse today tells us that love rejoices in truth, not the wrongdoing. Allow God, who is love, to show you the wins and watch how that will fuel your tank with the oil to quiet the noise around your situation. Obviously, there are situations where problem solving is the go-to. Maybe there is no time to look for the good. The hole in the boat is big. In this case look for wins later. Patch the hole so you do not sink. But there are many times when we do have the opportunity to stop, assess, look for wins and, through that, see our situation with so much more clarity.

I was thankful for that perspective change in our meeting that Monday morning. As we talked about the wins, even when at times I really wanted to problem solve, we began to see our problems differently. We saw them in a way that brought life to the situation, instead of frustration. Truth spoke up and showed up. We saw what God wanted us to see. What we discovered filled our tanks. For us, the ministry systems are not the priority. Projects are not our bread and butter. Instead, it is the people who facilitate the ministry and their relationship with Jesus are the priority. Love is not concerned with projects though they are important. Love instead is focused on the joy of lives connected to Jesus who in turn do ministry out of that strength. They are happy and well when love has captivated their hearts and ministry overflows from it. As we talked about the wins, we saw how blessed we are with so many beautiful and talented people God has partnered us with to do ministry. Did we still see problems? Yes. However, the problems that seemed to loom so large before were so much smaller in comparison to the wins that surrounded the problems. We saw so many wins that began to outweigh the problems. This brought so much more joy.

Love rejoices with truth, not the problems. Not the mistakes and failures. Squeaky wheels are a part of life. Make your adjustments, focus on the wins, and keep your oil can full. The squeaks will stop and you will feel a lot better.

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