It’s easy to focus on the leader with the title, the public profile or the microphone in their hand. While the organizational leader’s role is critical, we shouldn’t forget about the importance of boards.
Boards matter. They really do.
Elder boards and non-profit boards usually hold ultimate legal, spiritual and stewardship responsibility. As unpaid volunteers, board members oversee everything from mission, vision and values to legal requirements to spiritual and financial health. They invest endless hours, make difficult decisions and frequently take criticism only to be repaid with limited appreciation.
After serving with church and non-profit boards for twenty years, I am so thankful for board members who generously invest their time, heart, gifts, prayers and resources to see God’s purposes move forward.
Consider the following ten often overlooked practices for healthy boards and flourishing board members.
1. Be the Organization’s Board – The board isn’t the CEO’s or pastors’s board, it’s the organization’s or church’s board. Respect, support and care for the leader but do what’s best for the organization.The board isn’t the CEO’s or pastors’s board, it’s the organization’s or church’s board. Respect, support and care for the leader but do what’s best for the organization. Click To Tweet
2. Check Personal Motives – Set aside your own agenda and guard against the temptation of personal gain.
3. Fly at the Right Altitude – In start-up phases and crisis moments, a board may need to get deep into the details of operations. Ideally, however, boards should focus on the forest rather than the trees. Review each meeting agenda to keep focused on what’s most important. Be disciplined during meetings to avoid undermining staff leadership by getting into the trees.Boards should focus on the forest rather than the trees. Review each meeting agenda to keep focused on what’s most important. Be disciplined during meetings to avoid undermining staff leadership by getting into the trees. Click To Tweet
4. Invest in Your Development as a Board – Surprisingly, most board members receive little to no training when they start serving or at any point during their service. Regular ongoing training is critical for board members to serve confidently and capably in a very complex environment. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Identify learning objectives, find resources and keep learning together over time.
5. Build Relationships – Trust requires relationship. So take time to get to know one another during meetings and outside of meetings. Feeling connected to one another also makes serving together so much more enjoyable.
6. Learn to Have Hard Conversations – At a time when incivility is rampant, boards need to be able to have hard conversations in God-honoring ways. Seeking God’s Kingdom while relationally living out Colossians 3:12-14 needs to be the standard. Don’t take your ball and go home when you don’t get your own way. Keep leaning in and pursuing unity.Boards need to be able to have hard conversations in God-honoring ways. Seeking God’s Kingdom while relationally living out Colossians 3:12-14 needs to be the standard. Click To Tweet
7. Celebrate!!! – Take any chance you can to celebrate God’s work and provision. Celebrate good news, forward steps and staff effort. Celebrations are good for the soul, encourage all involved and can help fuel the board through hard conversations and complex issues.
8. Support the Leader – Pray for the leader and team. Be generous with compensation, time off and encouragement. Don’t let the leader take all the heat or carry all the weight, especially for board decisions. Don’t blindside them with surprises. Give constructive feedback. Invest in their development. Review their performance yearly.
9. Eyes Fixed on Jesus – Whatever the ups and downs you face serving as a board member, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). He’s your leader, guide, provider and protector. Seek to be led more by Jesus. Seek to lead more like Jesus. Seek to lead more to Jesus.
10. Be Courageous – These are not easy times to serve on a board. Courage is required. Take heed of 1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love.”1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love.” Click To Tweet
Which practice do you need to focus on right now?
Do you know a board member who would benefit from this post? Forward it to them with a few words of thanks for their service.
Cheering you on as you serve!
Dr. Steve A. Brown
President, Arrow Leadership