Five Questions Every Christian Non-Profit Board Must Answer
By R. Scott Rodin ~
A great deal of time and resources are being invested these days helping non-profit boards be more effective. There are a growing number of books, seminars, webinars, training programs, online resources and assessment tools available to those seeking to better serve the organizations they hold in trust. I am part of a consortium of experienced consultants that focus specifically on board effectiveness, and our numbers are increasing.
This is important work. Studies and anecdotal evidence continues to point to the health of boards as a leading indicator of the success and effectiveness of a non-profit organization or ministry.
For all this critical attention, I am concerned that we help boards ask the right questions. By that I mean ‘kingdom’ questions. The questions we ask should be oriented around a unified passion to be faithful to God’s leading in pursuit of kingdom outcomes. For all our zeal for quality governance, we must not be lured into pursuing a model for governance that is indecipherable from our non-faith based non-profit neighbors. That is, our work should reflect the values of the kingdom of God just as unequivocally as the programs and outcomes of the ministries we govern.
There is a crossroads at which every board stands; a decision we make that determines everything else we do. It is this: are we ‘owner-boards’ or ‘steward-boards’? A board’s most critical task is helping the organization discern God’s will and pursue it with excellence. If you agree, then the answers to these questions are critical.
Allow me to ask five questions and demonstrate five ways that this distinction shapes the way we lead and serve.
Do you plan your work and ask God to bless it, or do you seek to know God’s plan and pursue it regardless of the cost?
Owner Boards seek God’s blessing on their work…Steward Boards seek to know and do God’s work.
Do you see prayer as a ‘bookend’ to your work or is it the vital, driving lifeblood for all of your board work? Do you pray for God to endorse your work or does your work depend on hearing first from God to guide you?
Owner Boards add prayer to their agenda…Steward Boards make prayer their agenda.
Do you see your board work as a process of maintaining control of the outcomes of the ministry or do you ‘plant and water’ then look to God to ‘bring the increase?’ (1 Cornthians 3:6)
Owner Boards focus on controlling outcomes…Steward Boards surrender their need for control.
Are you defensive in the face of criticism or do you steward your role to such a degree that you can deflect praise and absorb criticism?
Owner Boards defend and take offense…Steward Boards repent and give grace.
Is your focus on who you are leading or who is leading you?
Owner Boards seek to lead with strength and courage…Steward Boards seek to follow the One who will lead them with humility and discernment.
I contend that we need boards that are listening intently for God’s leading and then pursuing it courageously. We need governing bodies that define success in terms of faithfulness and understand that in God’s economy victory begins with surrender. We need them to refuse to play the owner and yield the outcomes of the ministry to God while pursuing excellence in everything they do. We need boards that are not in bondage to ownership and control. We need them set free to lead. We need steward-boards, comprised of faithful stewards.
What kind of board are you?
Register TODAY for the Outcomes Conference – April 4-6, 2017. Be sure to select the Academic Experience option so you can attend the Outcomes Academy session lead by Dr. Rodin and Dr. Wilson titled: Steward Leadership Survival Skills. At this leadership training event, attendees choose from other 350-hours of training. Don’t miss what’s been planned for a leader like you!