Lenses to view issues

Any issue can be viewed from multiple perspectives.  As Christians, we must view everything from a Biblical perspective – but even within the Biblical perspective there are many lenses to choose from.   You can look at things using the lens of worldviews, activism, organisation, leadership, the spiritual, Biblical prophecy, selfish interest, politics, psychology, mercy or communications.

Learning to look at issues using more than one lens will help you respond more appropriately.  It will also help you understand other people who view things differently – and identify which lens they are using.  The saying goes “If your only tool is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail”  You may be wasting effort trying to solve an issue using the wrong tool, because you are not viewing the problem correctly?

Learn to use new lenses by asking the relevant questions below.

Worldview lens

  • What are the assumptions and bias behind the views of the speaker?
  • What ideology is being advanced?
  • How can we educate people on this issue?
  • What Bible commands and principles are relevant?

Change agent (activist) lens

  • What can we do to change this?
  • Who is going to be affected by this, and who else will be interested in this?
  • How will winning this battle help us win the war?
  • How do we solve this problem?

Organisational lens

  • How much time and resources will it take to solve this?
  • How will it help our organisation and the movement?
  • Who can donate money to this cause?
  • How will this action affect the movement as a whole?
  • Who will have to pay for this and who will benefit from it?

Leadership lens

  • Does this person have the potential to lead us to victory?
  • What is the best strategy?
  • Can we use this to develop people?
  • How does this relate to my vision?
  • Does our training system address this need?

Spiritual lens

  • What is the devil trying to do here?
  • Where is God in this?
  • Who will be motivated to pray into this?
  • How does this fit into God’s purposes for us?
  • Is there a curse at work that needs to be broken?
  • Do we need to confront this through fasting or united prayer?
  • Is God’s judgement at work or will he judge this?
  • Are we responding in faith or in the flesh?

Biblical prophecy lens

How does this fit into Biblical prophecy in terms of God’s plan for the church, the world, Israel and the impact of his blessings and judgements?

Selfish lens

  • How will this affect me/ my family / my race / my city etc.?
  • Don’t do this in my back yard.
  • How can I use this to advance my career/ status/ position?

Usually people first get interested in issues for selfish reasons.  After that, their vision broadens and they move on to other lenses.

Political lens

  • Who stands to win or lose from this?
  • How will other groups react?
  • Will my supporters support this cause?
  • What are the others motives?
  • What are the priorities and agenda of the groups involved?
  • What is the relationship between the parties involved?  Who is accountable to whom and who supports whom?
  • How does this issue link to other issues, alliances, to the social system and the power structures of society?
  • What are the subdivisions within the groups.  Do the leaders have conflicting personal agendas?

Skeptical lens

  • Why are they doing this?  Are the reasons they give the real reasons?
  • Is the information I have been given true?
  • What are their sources?

Psychological lens

  • How is this person’s attitude affecting the issue and other aspects of his life?
  • Does he need to control his emotions better?
  • How is their self-image affecting or affected by the issue?
  • What is motivating them and does this relate to a problem in their past?

Mercy lens

  • How can help people hurt by this problem?
  • How can we help them to help themselves?

Communications lens

Are people understanding the issue?

  • Are misunderstandings and deceptions causing trouble.
  • How can we get the truth out?
  • What similar thing do these people already understand that can help them understand this?

Historical lens

What are the historical roots of this problem and how long has it existed?

  • Have similar things happened before?
  • Can we learn from experience?

Broaden your understanding

From the different types of lenses listed above, think which lens do you use most?  Try to also look at things from other vantage points.  When you tackle a new issue, go through this list and ask these questions about it.

Leaders should be able to see many perspectives on the same issue to find the best solution to the problem and also to understand how other people see it.