Managed vs Solved

There are things that can be solved, and there are matters that need to be managed.  You can rarely do both, and the real challenge is to figure out which is which.

For instance, our recent Synod Council meeting discussed updates to the Compensation Guidelines for Pastors and Deacons in our synod.  We spent more time than originally planned, and even had to add additional time to our Saturday morning agenda to address the topic.  The challenges are many, and the discussion centered around how to do this work well.  The overall sense in the room was one of people wanting to do the right thing, while mindful of the many challenges.

During a break as a few of us talked over coffee, I realized that this was not a problem that could be easily solved.  However, it was and is a topic that can be managed.  The Synod Council can't solve the problem of clergy student loan indebtedness, nor can it solve the income/offering struggles of our congregations.  What it could do was hold the tension and try to best manage the conversation, and approve a document that creates room for guidance and healthy conversation about compensation.

Another example, for me was my time serving a congregation in Brooklyn, NY.  The altar guild was consistently frustrated by a lack of participation by other members of the congregation.  I tried to solve the problem by recruiting new people, but when those new people offered to help, they were rebuked.  The altar guild kept saying the new people would work because.... the reasons varied from legitimate to the absurd.  I finally realized that the altar guild was not a problem I could solve, rather it was a situation that I had to manage.  So I shifted to a positing of offering options for the altar guild, such as inviting them to make announcements, come to new member classes to speak to new people or write newsletter articles.  They declined all of those opportunities, and continued to express frustration.  The difference was my ability to step back from the chaos and confusion.

Some things can be managed, some things can be solved.  This is true of most of life.  the challenge is getting them in the right alignment.