Don was a member of one church where I served on staff. He truly had a servant’s heart. Don had retired from a local factory and spent much of his time serving God leading Bible studies and services in nursing homes, visiting shut-ins, and the sick in the community. I cannot remember a time when Don was not available and ready to serve in whatever capacity was needed; whether it was visiting, a demolition or refurbishing project, or driving someone to the airport or doctor’s appointment. Don truly was a servant of God and it humbles me still today when I think of his selfless, faithful service to our Lord.
I begin this article with my perspective of Don Hollingsworth because he taught me a lot and when God called me away from that church, I feel Don gave me one of the greatest compliments I have ever received. On our last day of service with this particular church, Don stood before the congregation and said, “One thing I learned from George is there are no problems in life, only opportunities.” Don went on to explain what that meant in general and in his personal life.
That may not seem like what you would consider a great compliment. I was not expecting this comment, still, I consider it a compliment and a testimony of living day in and day out of how iron sharpens iron. Here was a man, twenty-plus years my senior, whom God was using to influence and encourage me and sometimes to humble me as well. Following his statement I began reflecting on our four years together in ministry and could recall Don entering my office, riding in the car to a visit, or even sitting at lunch. Though I may not have realized the events when they happened, I could now recall Don entering my office and saying we have a problem, or sitting at lunch, or in the car saying something similar using the word problem. My response was always the same, “Don, we don’t have a problem, we have an opportunity.” Then we would begin to explore the opportunity. What did God have in mind and in store for us through this opportunity?
You may ask what is the difference. The difference, I believe is huge and of cataclysmic proportion. When we look at issues and situations as problems, our efforts and outlook are only focused on the negative. No matter how we try to explain away our attitudes and actions dealing with problems always originate from the negative plane. You cannot put enough spin on your words or actions to remove them from the negative.
On the other hand, when you deal only in opportunities you always deal from the positive plane. Where ever there is an opportunity there is the prospect of betterment. When we deal with opportunity our thoughts are on improvement or becoming better. I believe it is nearly (if not always) impossible to view opportunity from a negative plane. Opportunity imparts a positive point of view and positions you for a constructive approach to your situation or issue.
When we view our situation as a problem we almost always push the reasoning to someone or some event outside of our control. “It was the economy.” “Our people are not doing their job.” This is human nature because we cannot possibly view ourselves as the problem.
However, when we deal with opportunities we always probe how we can improve our organization, ourselves, and the productivity of our employees or volunteers. Dealing with opportunities in this manner becomes a winning situation for everyone.
Even in personal life, those who deal with problems will always operate out of the negative plane. “I really messed that up. I don’t know what I am doing.” That is certainly dealing from a negative, problematic point of view. There was certainly something gone wrong here. I did mess up, the opportunity is, now how can I learn from this and take action steps to improve and demonstrate that I can do this and greater things than this.
Hopefully, by now you can see this is much more than semantics or a play on words. There is an enormous difference in attitude and action toward the issue, the people involved, and the desired improved outcome.
In life, you are given opportunities to help yourself and others. As long as you view people or situations as problems you will never rise above a negative perspective on life. And you will never be all that God created you to be. However, once you begin to view life as a series of opportunities, not only will your life improve. You will assist in the improvement of life for many. That my friends is the purpose God has for you in life.
Remember, there are no problems in life, only opportunities. Let’s improve something today!