Some people are just fixers. It wasn’t until a very recent conversation that I realized how much I fall into that category. I love solving problems. I appreciate seeing something that once functioned poorly, now working effortlessly. I have fixed the dishwasher, saving my husband from having one more thing to do when he gets home (or money in parts, replacement). I have fixed organizations and systems, friends problems, etc.
I also realized this is something I have always been fairly good at doing. In high school, I helped fix our dwindling Drama Club. In college, I wrangled in a campus club that was off kilter. In my career in retail sales, I would be moved from department to department & store to store, solving problems that others couldn’t. I prided myself in my ability to see the problem, find the solution, and execute that solution in an expedited fashion that would save money.
I didn’t realize it, but my affinity for fixing things is quite like a hunter on the prowl. He looks for his prey, I look for problems. He locks eyes on his target, I come up with a plan. He brings down his game with grace and precision, and I execute my solution effortlessly. The hunter walks away with the satisfaction of a “good kill”, and I pat my back with the satisfaction of a “good job”. However, we do not linger in that satisfaction. Instead we already begin to set eyes on what comes next.
In recent years, big game hunters get a lot of heat on the internet. The reason? People don’t see the need for the hunt. We have plenty of food in this country, so what reason could someone possibly have for wanting to kill big game animals? They see it as unnecessary. Not everything needs to be hunted down for the sake of hunting.
What finally hit me, as I was enjoying serious conversation with a very wise friend, was that not everything needs to be fixed for the sake of fixing things. We have all heard that phrase: “don’t fix what isn’t broken”. Which is totally something that I deep down believe. I’m not one for reinventing the wheel, or trying to make something better that is actually functioning well and doing it’s intended job. That didn’t prevent me from being on the hunt to find something to fix.
After solving one problem, I needed somewhere else to put to use my gifts and talents. I wasn’t content not having some sort of project to work on. So, I would find my next target. However, I’ve learned a new phrase: “not everything that is broken wants or needs to be fixed”. Even more convicting is the phrase: “not everything broken is supposed to be fixed by me”. Let’s unpack those thoughts a bit.
Not Everything That is Broken WANTS to be Fixed:
This scenario often deals with people more than things or projects. You may be watching a person spiral out of control, personally or professionally. But, unless that person truly wants help any attempt to fix it is going to be pushed away. We can talk until we are blue in the face, throw suggestions and solutions in their direction, but none of it will matter if they don’t want to hear it or change their lives.
A friend who is struggling through addiction, who has begun having an affair, who is blowing all of their money shopping, etc… are all REAL problems. But if the person is not at a place to desire change, you can’t fix them. And, it’s not our job to convict their spirit to desire those changes. That is up to the Holy Spirit, which is a job that none of us are qualified for. This doesn’t mean that we don’t pray for them, and even make ourselves available for when they are ready. It does mean, however, that we are not going to beat a dead horse. The more we push, when they are not ready, the more they are going to distance themselves.
Even in ministry work, if you see that the ministry is dysfunctional… but you are the only one that seems to have a problem with it…. then it may not want to be fixed. You have to be willing to step back. We must pray that the Lord would put His hands on the situation and bring about the desire for change or repair.
Not Everything That is Broken NEEDS to be Fixed:
Many years ago I was lamenting to my husband about a problem I was seeing in an organization that I was volunteering with. I could see the writing on the wall, if these issues were not fixed the ministry was going to fold. It broke my heart to see that happen, because I believed in the potential of their work.
My husband, in his wisdom, pointed out that perhaps God didn’t want it fixed? Even though the work they were doing was good, it may not be Kingdom work. If it’s not Kingdom work, then the Lord may have better use of those people and resources. I had to be willing to let it die, so that something better could be born.
We can spend many hours super gluing a shattered plate back together. Carefully piecing it together, using the best of our tools to get the job done, but the second it gets the slightest tap… it shatters back into pieces. There are times where things are broken beyond repair, to spend so much time trying to fix it becomes a waste of our time, resources, and the gifts the Lord has given us. We must seek God’s discernment on whether something is worth saving. Just because we can save a ministry, program, church, event, etc… doesn’t mean we should.
There are times where a group or project is not functioning well, but getting the job done. We can see the hundred ways it could run better, and even the greater potential that is being overlooked. However, those who are overseeing it may not desire anything greater than what it is currently doing. It may not need to be fixed, because the job is getting done and the details of the “how” are really not important. We need to seek God’s wisdom in knowing when something doesn’t need to be fixed at all, or when it’s simply not my job to do it.
Not Everything That is Broken is MY JOB to Fix:
Quite some time ago, I was involved in a ministry project. Each team member had a very distinct role, and I was fulfilling my part. However, I was seeing that another portion of the project was struggling. I offered my opinion to the person in charge. It was dismissed. I offered my help, I was turned down. In my arrogance, I tried to assert myself more. This resulted in a come to Jesus meeting, and I was the one invited.
The fellow leader was brutally honest with me. “I know this isn’t coming along perfectly. I know that you could do a better job. If you want my job, just tell me. Otherwise, I need you to let me do this my way. Right or wrong.” She was absolutely right. She never asked me to come in and fix it, she wasn’t even in denial that there were some problems. It simply wasn’t my job to fix it. It was up to her, to do the job she was entrusted with. I apologized immediately, and I learned a tough lesson.
What I find almost humorous about this, as I reflect, is that one of the things that gets on my nerves the quickest is…. unsolicited advice. But, there I was… dishing it out.
Occasionally, everyone can see the problems in the organization or project. You may have all the answers, but in simple terms… it’s not your job. The Lord may have someone else who is going to work those problems out. The Lord may need the ministry to stumble in your absence to draw attention to the bigger issues. Or, the Lord may have a greater plan that what you can imagine down the road. He may be trying to get you out of the way, so that He can do something beyond comprehension.
Because no matter how much you think you can do to fix the problems, hiccups, and hold backs… HE CAN DO GREATER. We need to be in prayer that we would not only get out our own way, but even more so that we get out of God’s way. Let Him do the work, open the doors, and work out the miracles. All you need to figure out is if you are going along for the ride, or if He is directing your gifts and talents to another ministry.
In the end… generally speaking… if something is broken and we have the capacity to fix it, we should. This piece isn’t about standing back and doing nothing. Instead, this piece is a reminder that all the things we can do need to be in surrender to God, His glory, and His plan. If we seek Him before we act, we will understand our role.. to fix, to pray, to let go, or to step aside.