Problem Solving that Doesn’t Include Panic


You know those moments where something goes wrong and you feel the urge to panic-plan?

Panic-planning is different than damage control. Damage control is after the problem is completely over. Panic-planning happens while the problem is still in progress.

My panic-plan routine is pretty predictable. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Phase 1: Hear about the problem
  • Phase 2: Ask a bunch of questions
  • Phase 3: Get grumpy and quiet while trying to solve the problem (this phase may last awhile… my family does not love this phase)
  • Phase 4: Present 2-3 solutions to whoever will listen
  • Phase 5: Execute best solution and pray that God will bless my efforts
  • Repeat steps 1-5 as needed

I’ve had a pretty solid track record with this routine. In fact, prior to a couple weeks ago, I was pretty sure this was my million dollar idea (coming soon to a bookstore near you).

Then came chapter 4 of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah took a 12-year sabbatical from his high-ranking career as the King’s cup bearer to go repair the protective wall around Jerusalem. Throughout this project, he encountered many obstacles, some of which required his fellow wall-builders to hold a weapon in one hand and build the wall with the other hand. However, even with this level of preparedness, these warriors were still spread quite far apart. If they were to be attacked, there had to be some way to quickly assemble and fight off the enemies. Nehemiah had a solution for that.

So far his plan sounds pretty much like my amazing panic-plan routine, right?! That’s what I thought… until I read the last seven words of verse 20. Check it out:

Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!” (Nehemiah 4:19-20 NIV)

“… join us there. Our God will fight for us!

WHAT. That’s it?! I’m not even kidding you. I’ve been stewing on this for over a week. THAT’S IT?! God doesn’t want me to have a well thought out, strategic solution ready to rock and roll with his blessing?! It’s just “Show up. God will do his thing.”?!

Then I tried it: A problem happened. I showed up to the problem. I planned nothing and just kept praying “God, show me what you want me to do.”

And HE DID. It was amazing!!

I dare you to try Nehemiah’s 2-phase solution the next time you encounter a problem:

  • Phase 1: Show up.
  • Phase 2: Prayerfully wait for God to guide you.

Prayer: Dear God, I’m not going to lie – it’s kind of terrifying to do things Nehemiah’s way. But, when I trust YOU and let YOU lead, my reactions and solutions are just… better. Please give me the strength to continue to grow beyond my panic-plan routine and into your perfect will. Amen.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich:

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  1. Joe

    Amen! Thank you Emily for sharing this treasure from God’s word.

    • messyworship

      Hey, Joe! I’m so thankful that the words God put on my heart resonated with you. He is with you, brother!


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