Problem Solving Flowchart

Flowchart for problem solving based on whether I have control over the problem.

What goes on in your mind when something “goes wrong?” I started thinking about this not too long ago. Some people obsess about why it happened. I don’t. So what do I do?

Is It Something I Can Control?

I go through a kind of flowchart in my mind in these situations. It actually happens pretty quickly most of the time. The first thing I ask myself is, “Is this something I can control?” This is a key question because if it is not something I can control, no amount of anguish, effort or frustration is going to change anything.

If the Problem or Situation is Not Under My Control

If the problem is something that I cannot control I quickly do Steps 1, 2, and 3:

  • Step 1: Admit that I am powerless over the matter.
  • Step 2: Acknowledge that God can handle it.
  • Step 3: Make a decision to turn it over to Him and trust His timing.

I have written several other posts on how to let go and trust God. For example, “Learning to Let Go.” Once I have turned it over, I need to be willing to trust His timing. If I find myself obsessing about the matter again, it is probably related to His timing more than anything else.  I want the problem solved immediately.  He has a perfect sense of when the necessary lessons have been learned and will resolve these things in His own way and time. I need to remember that I turned it over and decide to let it go once more. ( See more on the “God Box” ).

If It is Something I Can Control

Sometimes a problem is something I could do something about, but should not. It might be outside of my area of stewardship – in other words, none of my business. Or it might be better for the other people involved if I let them figure out a solution for themselves. Even if it is my problem to solve, it is often the case that the immediate and obvious answer that pops into my head is not the best one. I have found that praying for guidance is always worth the time.

Praying for Guidance

“Lord, what wilt thou have me do?” This is the humble prayer the Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing says to use in Step 7 on page 42.  I usually write this type of prayer (see more here), and list out the options that I can think of, describing the pros and cons, trying to think ahead to what the outcomes (including possible unintended consequences) might be. I believe this is in harmony with the Lord’s direction to Oliver Cowdery in the 9th Section of the Doctrine & Covenants.

Doing the Footwork

Sometimes the footwork is to watch and wait and continue to pray. Other times it requires more action. If I need to take action I want to feel comfortable that the action I am going to take has the approval of the Lord.  And sometimes I need to have the courage to take the action the Lord gives me to do. I may feel fear. When this happens I try to remember two of my favorite scriptures:

  • “And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” (Moroni 7:33)
  • “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Trust in the Lord’s Timing

In the end, whether it turns out to be something I have no control over or something I need to act upon, it all comes down to trusting the Lord and His timing.

  • Is there something going on in your life right now that should be put through this process?
  • Are you willing to let go of it and turn it over if it is something that is not in your area of stewardship, or if the Lord tells you just to be patient right now?
  • Are you willing to ask the Lord, with an open mind and heart, if there is any footwork that you need to do?
  • Are you willing to do the footwork He has given you?
  • How do you feel about accepting His timing in the resolution of this matter?

 

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