Sunday, November 4, 2012

Keeping Up With the Joneses

The board member had a contagious smile and his positivity quotient was sky high. He was more engaged than most. My first impression: quality person.
At a coffee break near the end of a board training weekend, he buttonholed me before I could put the requisite Hazelnut-flavored creamer in my coffee.
“John, you’ve worked with lots of boards. So how good are we? I think we do our governance work well. But how do we compare with other nonprofit ministry boards of our scope and size?”

Like the suburban rat race family, it was important that his board, in governance terms, was keeping up with the Joneses. It’s a natural question—but it’s the wrong question.

A better question would address what David McKenna labels “the sacred trust” of board service.

Here are some questions I encourage boards to confront:
   • Are we stewarding our board roles as a “sacred trust” from God?
   • Are we spiritually discerning God’s direction for our ministry?
   • Are we holding each other accountable for Kingdom results?
   • Are we assessing the effectiveness and performance of every board member?
   • Are we supporting and evaluating our CEO’s performance against agreed-upon and spiritually discerned Annual S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

When I finally got my coffee creamer, I did answer his question.  “Actually, your board is doing many things well. My gut: you are in the top 10-20 percent of nonprofit boards. But—let me add this. You will be pleasantly surprised, even shocked, at how much, much better you could be with the addition of some strategic next steps in your governance work.  And those next steps will have a dramatic and God-honoring impact on your work and your relationships."

QUESTION: How about your board? How much better—how much more God-honoring—could you be if you focused not on the Joneses, but on God’s unique call for your important ministry?

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