When I became interim pastor for a nearby church, I was given a set of keys by the clerk of session during worship on my first Sunday. Being granted access to everywhere and anywhere in the buildings was, of course, a sign of welcome and great trust.

But there were and are lots of keys. One for the front door of the house where my office is and one for the back. Another for my office door and yet another for my desk. And one more for the front door of the church building. I added the ministry key ring to my already existing wad of car key, house key, parents’ house key, and storage unit key, in addition to the keyless remote for my SUV. Pretty soon I began to worry that I would wear a hole in the pocket of my pants from carrying all those keys.

I was considering getting one of those old-fashioned key cases like I used to have years ago. I told Susan about my plan, and as usual, she came up with a simpler solution. I didn’t need to spend time looking for a case or money to buy one. All I had to do was consider what keys I had to have daily and put the rest away. Or take them with me, but not in my pocket.

What a great idea that was, and it’s working out great! And what a model for solutions in so many areas of our lives. So many of us seem to be wired to approach a problem or need by throwing money at it or buying something. We spin our wheels looking for an answer when the one we need is right before our eyes, if we would but open them.

Thinking outside the box these days means looking at life and organizations with the basics in mind. Not how we can spend more money, but how we can enhance relationships. Not how to build bigger buildings, but how to build self-esteem and confidence. Not complicated, wordy liturgies, but worship that touches people on an intuitive,experiential level and transports them into the presence of God. Not the first solution that comes to mind, but creative options that take a little thought.

As Occam’s Razor says, all other things being equal, the simplest answer is most likely the right one.

© 2009 Tom Cheatham