Saturday, October 5, 2013

Your Greatest Need: Money or Discernment?

Recently a ministry CEO asked me to suggest 10 options for a pre-retreat reading assignment.  My list ranged from books by Jim Collins to Harvard Business Review articles to a poke-in-the-heart spiritual discernment book.

The board chair and CEO picked the poke-in-the-heart book, Pursuing God’s Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups, by Ruth Haley Barton (read my review here). Board members and senior team members read the book, made notes on a “Read & Review” five-page worksheet, and—get this—brought both their brains and their hearts to the strategic planning retreat.

I trumpeted this book here in July, so if you missed that blog, I urge you to dig deeper as you inspire your board to move from decision-making to discernment. Barton’s book is jam-packed with insight and practical tools to equip boards and leadership teams to hear from God and to do his will. She writes:

“Have you ever been part of a meeting in which people were so tired that they made a decision just so they could go home? Have you ever participated in a decision-making process knowing that you were resorting to ‘sloppy desperation’ just because you were exhausted?”

You’ll appreciate the been there/done that elephant-in-the-room stories—and how a spiritual discernment process can lead you to a healthy culture. Barton will inspire you—and give you tools—for the priority task of discerning your board’s values. Her ten guidelines for “entering into and maintaining a listening posture” are both brilliant and practical. You’ll want to laminate the list and bring it to every meeting. 

Hey, Hank! Read No. 3 again! 

Share these listening guidelines at your next board meeting:
2. “Listen to others with your entire self (senses, feelings, intuition, imagination and rational faculties).”
3. “Do not interrupt.”
4. “Pause between speakers to absorb what has been said.”
5. “Do not formulate what you want to say while someone else is speaking.”
9. “Leave space for anyone who may want to speak a first time before speaking a second time yourself.”

The 10 guidelines are listed on page 207 of this remarkable book.

At this recent retreat, I was privileged to facilitate a process with men and women whose hearts were prepared—even hungry—for unity and direction. God honored their hearts’ desires.

QUESTION: What’s the most important need in our ministry right now? Raising money to do our work or discerning what work God wants us to do?

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