Tuesday, February 24, 2015

“The Cardinal Sin Is Dullness”

I was catching up on my reading last Sunday evening, with the Oscars on TV in the background.  I had one take-away—an actor quoted Frank Capra (1897-1991), the famed director of the 1946 uplifting movie, “It's a Wonderful Life.”

Capra cautioned:
“There are no rules in filmmaking.
Only sins.
And the cardinal sin is dullness.”

With apologies to Capra, I’d add—“Ditto our board meetings. The cardinal sin is a bored board member.”

What’s the antidote to dullness?

#1. Holy Ground. Begin with God—not the “found-this-on-the-Internet” dribble, but a fresh-off-the-street story.  Bring a sense of the holy with John 1:14 (The Message):  “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” Inspire your board members with God-at-Work Stories.

#2. Probing Questions/Insightful Answers.  I have a 45-minute rule for board meetings. Facilitate a discussion exercise so every board member verbally contributes within the first 45 minutes of the meeting. Who wants to endure yet one more meeting where the CEO and senior team members drone on and on, regurgitating their written reports sent in advance? Dullsville!

#3. Frequent Holy Interruptions!  Another cardinal sin (my opinion): prayer is reduced to opening and closing agenda items (and maybe grace at meals). What if…board meetings were more about prayer—with occasional interruptions for business?  We don’t pray out of routine, we pray out of need. Most of us are ill-equipped for stewarding God’s work. Especially when we go it alone.

Imagine this! The God of the Universe wants a seat at our board tables. Will we acknowledge His presence, invite Him in, discern His direction, and follow His way? 

Ruth Haley Barton reminds us: “Many of us have been taught that leadership is having the answer, and we come into meetings we are leading prepared to bestow that wisdom on our trusty followers; we might ask God for wisdom in a prayer that sounds very spiritual, but the truth is, there isn’t much room for God to do or say anything other than what we already have in mind.”

It’s a sin to bore a board member—especially when conducting God’s business.

QUESTION: At your next board meeting, ask each board member (round-the-room) to describe the most meaningful board meeting they’ve ever attended—and why.

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