Friday, December 14, 2012

Cajoled Onto the Board


“The Shortest Board Term in the History of the World” is the humorous, but poignant, in-the-trenches board story in the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 1: Recruiting Board Members.

The true story (names have been changed to protect the guilty) describes how a ministry fast-tracked a highly qualified person onto the board—but after one board meeting, the disillusioned board member quit.

The point: “dating a board prospect” takes time.  To find God’s person for our board, we must pray diligently, seek counsel, check references, and meet several times—always providing adequate time for Q&A (both ways).

Both the board prospect and the nominating committee must spiritually discern God’s direction. Will this person fit our culture? Will she add value? Is his family supportive of the high commitment to time, talent and treasure? Is she on too many boards already?

I was thinking about this recently when a highly qualified and experienced board member told me he had just turned down a board opportunity. He discerned—after much prayer and reflection—that he did not have sufficient passion for the ministry to assume the spiritual, stewardship and fiduciary responsibilities as an effective board member.

At first, I was disappointed to learn of his decision. From my perspective, he would have been an outstanding board member. Yet, he knew—deep in his heart—that someone with much greater passion for the ministry should accept this board position.

Ruth Haley Barton’s amazing book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, quotes Danny Morris and Charles Olsen, who write, “God’s will is the best thing that could happen to us under any circumstances.”

Amen. So (gulp) it’s OK to rejoice when God-honoring board prospects say no.  It could be worse—they could be cajoled onto your board only to become another nominee for the “Shortest Board Term in the History of the World.”

QUESTION: How does your nominating committee measure a board prospect’s passion for your ministry?

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