Friday, June 14, 2013

Two Things Boards Should Never Joke About

Olan Hendrix, the first executive director of ECFA, shared the following wisdom in the May 1999 issue of CMA Management Monthly. His wisdom adds another layer to the distinctiveness of Christ-centered organizations and the boards that govern them.

“During a session of CMA’s Jungle Fighters Forum last year, I commented that ‘there are some things you should never joke about.’ When one emerging young leader asked for examples, I gave him two: prayer and fundraising. Let me explain why I believe neither should ever be the subject of jokes.


“I couldn’t believe my ears! My client, who had retained me to search for an individual to fill a key position in his organization, told me he was rejecting the candidate I had recommended. I was convinced the man met all the job qualifications. He had an impressive track record, and seemed ideal for the position. His life was in order, and he fit the doctrinal mold exactly.

“Nevertheless, he was rejected—because it turned out he had made light of prayer.  When my client learned this person had made a tasteless joke on the subject, he was disturbed enough to remove him from further consideration.

“Naturally, I accepted his decision, but was astonished that one single negative factor would outweigh the many positive ones.

“That was many years ago and I no longer remember the joke, but I’ve never been able to forget the incident.  My client was absolutely right.

“While I’ve never considered prayer to be a joking matter, he helped me to begin to understand something of the solemnity of the believer communing with God.

“Humor is not only a useful tool, it’s also a valuable relief valve.  Our spirits can be lifted in a moment of sadness by a funny story. A tense meeting can be spared a disruption by a bit of humor. We need humor in our lives, but only humor that lifts the heart. 
Making light of the sacred, 
no matter what our intentions, 
can only be harmful.”

Bob Kelly, senior editor for CMA at the time observed in that issue, “It’s not uncommon to be part of a group at mealtime and have one thoughtless companion joke, ‘Last one with your thumb up says grace.’”

Kelly then asked leaders to contrast that flippant kind of disrespect for God, the Provider of all things, with this from Charles H. Spurgeon:

“God does not hear us because of the length of our prayer, but because of the sincerity of it. Prayer is not to be measured by the yard, nor weighed by the pound. It is the might and force of it—the truth and reality of it—the energy and the intensity of it.”

QUESTION: Oswald Chambers wrote that prayer is “the vital breath of the Christian.”  Is that vital breath evident both in your board meetings and outside of board meetings?

Next Blog: Olan Hendrix on why you should never joke about fundraising.

Reprinted with permission from CMA Management Monthly, No. 31, May 1999, published by Christian Management Association (now Christian Leadership Alliance). © Copyright 1999.

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