What’s Your Default Hammer

There’s an old saying that says, if your only tool is a hammer, you’re going to see every problem as a nail. What is your hammer? What is your nail? What is your default setting when you’re in crisis or under stress? 

Some kinds of personality and leadership tests seek to discern in part what your default operating mechanism is. When you go under stress, do you operate differently than you normally do? There’s a lot of pretty good leaders who are good leaders in normal times, but under stress they become tyrants and really controlling and non-collaborative, which is their default setting. Other people kind of withdraw and get quiet. 

When it comes to crisis, whether it’s a national/international crisis like the Covid-19, whether it’s in business or in church or a family crisis, the same kind of thing happens. But it’s not necessarily just about our personality; it’s about our skill set. As leaders, we have some skills. We have some things that we’re really good at, which are different for each one of us, that when things go sideways, we might fall back on those skills, whether or not that skill is what is needed at the time. It’s our hammer. It’s our default hammer. 

Are you aware of what your default hammer is? 

It’s helpful to think of the Covid-19 crisis, if you’re in a leadership role during that, how did you respond to that? Did you feel like the answer to it was to preach more or teach more? Well, in a lot of cases, if you are leaning towards the teaching preaching, that will be your default. Did you feel like maybe you just need to pray more and gather people for prayer? And if you are already an intersession kind of person and gegin to that, that might be your default. Did you did you feel like you need to work harder? Just do more of what you’re doing, but do it harder and faster. 

Are you a researcher and you just decide you need to figure out exactly what’s going on and read and figure as much as possible, then you’re a researcher. Or maybe you’re just a social kind of person and really the answer for you to a lot of things is to get together people and share, pray and care for each other, making sure everybody is doing okay. 

I’ve just asked these questions to help you identify what is your default hammer, because that’s where we all go. I’m a bit of a researcher. I’m a teacher. I am an intercessor, though not the same skill as my wife may be, but that’s part of our lives. And so those are some places we go when there’s a crisis. 

But here’s the thing, none of those things are wrong. Don’t don’t hear me saying any of those things are wrong and maybe there’s a place for all of those things in every crisis. But here’s the thing, what our default hammer is, what our fallback position is in crisis may not be what’s needed at the time. I think I’ve shared before that you cannot lead your way out of or teach your way out of a purely spiritual crisis; there needs to be some intercession. You cannot purely pray your way out of a leadership crisis; there’s got to be some leadership. 

So whatever crisis you’re facing, you need to know what your default response is, but then ask the question, is this the right response? Do I need to get situational here? Do I need to pull another tool out of my belt? Do I need to pull some other people alongside me so I can respond to this crisis and this challenge the right way? 

One way to make sure using the right tool is to have some mentors and people who speak into your life that you can actually call together, possibility on a video call, and share some things. Make sure their diverse and get some different ideas. Maybe you’ll discover that who you are and what you’re wearing is is exactly what’s needed at the moment. Or maybe you’ll discover you need to become savvy with a different tool, a different approach than what your default is. 

Good news is, James chapter one says, if any of you lacks wisdom, ask to the one who gives it freely and he’ll give it to you. 

So lead wisely, lead well and use the gifts you have, but draw on the gifts and resources you don’t have. There’s a whole army of people out there waiting to come alongside you and walk with you through whatever crisis you’re facing. 

Thanks for listening. God bless. Press on. 

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