Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Only Bad Question Is the One You Had, But Didn’t Ask

Here’s savvy advice for new board members (actually all board members): “Do not rely on someone else to do your thinking.”

That’s from the very helpful book by John Pellowe, CEO of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities. Serving as a Board Member: Practical Guidance for Directors of Christian Ministries, based on a seminar and a DVD of the same title, the book is one of the best Christ-centered governance books available.

As you think about your next board retreat—and a book for every board member to read, consider this one.

In his foreword to Serving as a Board Member, Jim Brown, author of The Imperfect Board Member, notes “now it seems like ‘governance consultant’ is a pre-painted shingle that goes with every early-retirement, golden parachute check that gets handed out. The web is fraught with blogs and e-books on the topics of boards.”

So…pick your books carefully. Why this one? Right from the get-go in the first chapter, “Readiness to Serve,” Pellowe speaks to the hearts of future board members about passion and calling:
   • “If the ministry’s mission is not closely tied to your interests, your board service will be a draining experience…”
   • “The Holy Spirit can nudge us towards those good works that God has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10); this nudging is usually described as a call.”
   • “God’s individual call is normally in line with the gifts that you already have.”

And he’s just warming up on pages 4 and 5! He adds on page 7, “You really should be able to think theologically about the mission, governance, and leadership of the ministry you are serving. If you are new to the Christian faith, you may not yet be well enough equipped for board service in a Christian ministry.”

The book’s format is unique with the voices of other experts blended into sidebars. Pellowe, CEO of CCCC since 2003, sprinkles in his personal insights and stories (like his home church board meetings!) every few pages—fascinating stuff! Example: His story on page 126 on the “Bad” 3 Rs: boards that waste enormous amounts of time on “Reviewing, Rehashing and Redoing.”

This paragraph grabbed me—and is illustrative of Pellowe’s insights in every chapter:

“You must be diligent as a director. Make sure that you ask any questions that are on your mind. As the saying goes, the only bad question is the one you had, but didn’t ask. You may think that since you have a banker on your board, you do not need to ask any financial questions because someone else is looking after that. It is your duty to ask these questions anyway. Do not rely on someone else to do your thinking.”

QUESTIONS: When is the last time every board member read a helpful governance book? What’s the next book your board should read?

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