Saturday, January 28, 2012

Is There a Retirement Age for Board Members?

In a board governance workshop last year, a ministry CEO in the back row asked how he could gently help an elderly board member exit from the board.  He wondered if a governance consultant could be of help.
Yet as he described his situation (the board member was elderly, but also one of those dig-your-feet-in types), I suggested that he didn’t need a consultant, he needed a pastor.

In the ECFA 2011 Governance survey of ECFA accredited members, 54 percent of board members were age 60 or over (16 percent were 71 or over).  Among board chairs, 62 percent were age 60 or over (23 percent were 71 or over). Is that good or bad? No one really knows.

Why did I recommend pastoral help to the ministry CEO?  In my consulting work and board service experience of more than 40 years, I’ve observed that the greater problem is not aging, it’s sinning. Are board members—no matter the age—hearing from God about their board service?

I’m in the age bracket mentioned above—and I’ve become more intentional about urging my wife, my son and my close friends to speak the truth into my life when it’s time for me to exit a board.  Yet I’ve watched extraordinary men and women, who some would describe as “elderly,” bring wisdom and experience into the boardroom and humbly help others discern strategic forks-in-the-road. 

I’ve also seen the opposite—aging board members concerned more with their own agendas and self-worth. I don’t hear them speaking about a holy calling or having passion to spiritually discern God’s voice. 
Question: Who speaks the truth into your life?

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