Margaret Marcuson: There are no unpickable locks

What’s your most insoluble problem? Innumerable problems arise in church life. You had a long list before the pandemic and it’s longer now.

My husband, Karl, has eclectic taste in YouTube videos--from astrophysics to cats. One of his favorite channels is “The Lock-Picking Lawyer.” This guy’s hobby (and now his business, via his YouTube channel)  is getting into secure locks. He’s developed his skills over a long period of time, and they involve both a deep understanding of how locks work and moment-by-moment perseverance. Now people send him locks to pick. He rarely finds one he can’t get into. My dad sold locking systems, so I’m a little bit interested in the topic, too.

The Lock-Picking Lawyer’s point: locks aren’t what they appear. The advertising almost always over-promises, and the adage that locks are there to keep honest people out is true. From the other side, if you know enough, you can get into any lock. If you don’t want to pick the lock itself, there are what he calls “other bypassing techniques.” to get through the door without breaking the lock--sometimes including brute force. Almost no lock is impregnable.

Back to impregnable church problems:
...How to navigate hybrid worship.
...How to fund ministry now and in the future.
...What to do about that burned out staff member. (Or maybe the burned out staff member is you…)
...How to handle all the triangles that go with your job.
...How to finish your sermon so you can get your day off.

And yet--think back over the last two years. How many seemingly unsolvable problems have you figured out? Consider making a list and seeing how much you have accomplished!

I know we’re still facing many seemingly intractable problems in the church and in our world at large. But solutions to the big and little problems only come one small step at a time. Try this. Did it work? Try the next thing. Did it not work? Try something else. What “bypassing techniques” to get around the problem can you think up? Who else can help you figure out how to break through?

Try this: Think more short term. What do I need to do right now, or tomorrow--or in the next three months? Don’t think longer than three months right now. And pay attention not just to the problems, but to what you truly want and need for yourself.

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