GoalsLeadershipLife Challenges

Drainage Ditches, Tourist Attractions, and Thinking Bigger than Your Problems

By March 24, 2015 4 Comments

In the early nineteen-hundreds, city planners in San Antonio, Texas had a real problem on their hands.  While the downtown area was growing quickly, flooding was a huge problem.  A river flowed right through the middle of downtown, and any substantial rain caused the water level to rise enough to flood the lower floors and basements of nearby homes and businesses.  Then, in 1921, a major flood caused tremendous damage and about 50 people lost their lives.  The city knew they had to act.  But how?

It was absolutely clear that they would have to redirect water away from the shallower areas of the downtown waterway.  They devised a plan with dams and other man-made systems to redirect the water.  But there was still the question of what to do with the river bend in the heart of downtown San Antonio.  Two different ideas were getting traction.  One group of people felt that they should simply drain that body of water, create a drainage ditch in its place, and pave a street above it.  For quite a while, this was the plan.

However, there was another group of people who felt that the river was too beautiful and had too much potential to be converted to a drainage ditch.  They passionately persuaded city planners to consider redirecting the water, yes, but also saving the beautiful river bend.  Eventually they won.  And the rescuing of that section of river was the beginning of something you and I know as the RiverWalk in downtown San Antonio.  With its trademark boat rides, beautiful stores and restaurants, and scenic views, the RiverWalk is truly worth visiting if you’re vacationing in Texas, as my wife and I were just a few days ago.  Along with the Alamo, the RiverWalk is Texas’ number one tourist attraction.


But this begs the question: how is it that people can look at the same problem and see such wildly different solutions?  How can one person look at a river and see a drainage ditch and city street, while another can see potential for a future that would distinguish San Antonio from other cities for decades to come?  I think the difference is something I call thinking bigger than the problem.

Don’t let the problem dictate how big you think. God is bigger than your problem. Click To Tweet

For most of us, the problems we encounter seem huge, daunting, unsolvable.  We size up the problem, and we try to imagine solutions that are as big as the challenge.  That’s where we tend to sell short on our future.  We need to think of solutions that are bigger than the problem.  Creating a culvert and downtown street would definitely have solved the problem of flooding, but it would not have moved San Antonio forward.  That was the key.  The most successful people I’ve ever met are not fixers, they are pioneers.  They don’t look at a problem and try to figure out how to “solve” it; when they are faced with a problem, they try to figure out how to use it to generate even more success down the road.

Successful people are more interested in using their problems than solving them. Click To Tweet

The truth is that people who think big don’t much love having to stop along life’s journey to deal with problems.  But if they must, they insist on finding solutions that move the ball down the field.  They are not content with simply making up lost ground, they want progress, and feel they haven’t truly arrived at a solution until big progress is part of the equation.  That’s thinking bigger than the problem.

How many problems in your life right now have so intimidated you that you can only think in terms of fixing… not in terms of growing?  While I know this may sound a bit cheesy or cliche, I truly believe that every problem brings with it a unique opportunity.  The story of the RiverWalk has reminded me of this truth yet again.  The beautiful creativity that God has given us to dream, to imagine, to design, and to implement amazing future realities is most often inspired by difficult challenges.  Don’t let the problem dictate how big you think.  God is bigger than your problem.  Think bigger.

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

The Blindfolded Marriage will help you understand the root issues that create difficulty and conflict in your marriage. Full of practical insight you can start using right away, Jonathan's book will both equip and inspire you to take your relationship to the next level.

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott | Authors of "The Good Fight"

This book will give you clarity in marriage that will be an impetus and help drive the desire to be healthier as husband and wife. ...Read this book, I promise you will recommend it to your friends.

Johnny M. Hunt | Former President, Southern Baptist Convention Pastor, First Baptist Church Woodstock, GA

Jonathan's insights into marital breakdowns and marital repair are both profound AND easily understood. To take such difficult issues and put them into accessible stories and metaphors that speak to both genders makes this book a rarity among marriage books. Whether your marriage is good and you want to make it better, or if it feels like the wheels came off about 5 miles ago, this book will help everyone along that spectrum.

Anita Renfroe | Speaker, Author


about Jonathan

Jonathan Hoover is the associate pastor and couples pastor at NewSpring Church in Wichita, KS, and the author of The Blindfolded Marriage.

As an author, communicator, and sought after marriage coach, Jonathan has shared God’s message of hope, love and encouragement with thousands of individuals.

Jonathan and Wendy have been married for 12 years, and they have two precious daughters, Cheyenne and Summer.


  • Cody says:

    I love reading your blog! My wife and I have been dealing with this problem almost everyday. She is a SPED teacher and I para in the schools. We come home frustrated and see the house work and all the “issues” we need to deal with and just feel ourselves getting bogged down. I have been trying to be a strong leader and remind her that so many of these problems are so trivial. Often times I know I approach the situation in the wrong way, and so in order to help us move for forward and help our family in the long run, I started praying about a resource that would help remind us of how God takes care of us everyday. I recently literally stumbled across a book called “Don’t Sweat the small stuff…and its all small stuff.” After approaching my wife about reading it we have both been working hard to take into account what is important in life and the even the largest problems we have will be taken care of by God.

  • Darcy says:

    I love how God works. He sent this message to me at just the right time. I am facing a large problem right now, but have more confidence that God will work for me to solve it

    Thank you for being the messenger.

Get my book, "Fight-Proof Your Marriage," right now for FREE!

If you are looking for real-life and grounded help for navigating the inevitable conflicts we all have in marriage, don’t miss out on the message of this book by Jonathan Hoover. It’s vulnerable, poignant and practical. Do yourself – and your relationship – a favor and read this book!

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott Authors of Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts