Monday, February 25, 2019

Best Board Books #18: Humility

Picture this familiar scene. You’re at your board’s annual retreat. Beautiful setting. Good coffee. Energetic facilitator. Praying for a bold vision.

“How about this for our new vision statement?” An engaged board member (with good handwriting) proposes a new BHAG and writes it on the flipchart:

“Big HOLY Audacious Goal!
By 2025, to be the leading global ministry in discipleship
and recruit 100,000 pastors as ambassadors.”


Book #18: Humility, by Andrew Murray
(Order from Amazon)

Over the years, I’ve collected hundreds of mission statements, vision statements, and BHAGs. I’ve helped boards and senior teams craft these important written aspirations. Some are stunning in their brevity and clarity. Others are…well…amusing

Frequently though, the first draft tone needs a strong dose of humility. Does God really call our organization to be the “leading global movers/shakers” of anything? I think not.

Hence, I encourage your board to read this 59-page gut-check from Andrew Murray. I was reminded of its importance again in a recent board meeting—when a board member presented his “10 Minutes for Governance” snippet on "Lesson 9: Serve With Humility and Experience God’s Presence” from Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom.

He began, “Why isn’t Lesson 9 the first lesson in this book?” Ouch!

Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was a South African Dutch Reformed pastor and Christian leader who authored 240 books and devotional writings. Murray writes:

• “Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue.”

• “The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is its lack of humility.”

“Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure.”

• “Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God, and allows Him as God to do all.”

• “The truth is this: Pride may die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.”

• “No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang.”

Maybe…take a page from Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist Church. Their aspirational statement nails it: “We’re into what God is up to.” I like it!

So…share Andrew Murray’s book with your board members. But this caution: every page convicts. 

BOARD DISCUSSION: Andrew Murray writes, “…humility towards men will be the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real; that humility has taken up its abode in us; and become our very nature; that we actually, like Christ, have made ourselves of no reputation.” What does this mean to you? What’s the balance between pride and humility when we tell our organization’s story in publications, brochures, donor letters, and ministry presentations?

MORE RESOURCES: Check out the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, including Lesson 9, by guest blogger Reid Lehman, “Serve with Humility and Experience God’s Presence.”

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Best Board Books #17: Lessons From the Church Boardroom

Raise your hand if—in addition to serving on a nonprofit ministry board—you’re also serving on the board at your local church. If so…that’s good news and bad news.

Good News. Your expertise and experience from your nonprofit board is often welcomed by your pastor and church board.

Bad News. In your church board meetings, you may pick up some bad habits—and further exacerbate one of the most common church boardroom dysfunctions: micro-managing.

Book #17: Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson (Order from Amazon)

Similar to the book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, this hot-off-the-press book for church boards features 40 short lessons in 10 irresistible categories including: 
   Part 1: The Powerful Impact of Highly Engaged Boards
   Part 2: Boardroom Tools and Templates
   Part 3: Nominees for the Church Board Member Hall of Fame
   Part 4: Epiphanies in the Boardroom
   Part 5: Boardroom Bloopers
   Part 6: Boardroom Time-Wasters, Trouble-Makers, and Truth Tellers
   Part 7: Boardroom Best Practices
   Part 8: Boardroom Worst Practices
   Part 9: Building a 24/7 Board Culture
   Part 10: Boards That Lead

Be sure to read “Lesson 8: Thrive With Four Kingdom Values”—helpful for both church and nonprofit boards. The subtitle: “Pastor Carlos said he didn’t have the spiritual gift of church board meetings!” If you’re on that church board—what would you do?

Another must-read is “Lesson 22: Big Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand.” Dan and I note that “Church boards have a natural gravitational pull toward issues that should be reserved for the church staff.”

Using the classic Stephen Covey story about a seminar instructor with a gallon jar, fist-sized rocks, small pebbles, sand, and water—this lesson reminds boards to address the “big rocks” first—or there will be no time or space left if you focus on the pebbles and sand issues. The two-word metaphor—when used judiciously with discernment—can be uttered by any board member when the agenda goes off course:

“Mr. Chairman—I’m wondering—is this a BIG ROCK issue?
If not, maybe the staff could address it?”

Lessons From the Church Boardroom is very, very practical—and the very short chapters will inspire your church board members to actually read the book—and focus on God-honoring governance. A friend who chairs the elder board at his church just ordered 30 copies (visit ECFAPress for bulk pricing).

The book launched this week—along with a “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentary series with 40 guest bloggers. Read the blog for Lesson 1 here, “Wanted: Lifelong Learners.”

And check out these other resources:
·       --Overview of the book from Your Weekly Staff Meeting eNews
·       --ECFA Knowledge Center: read Lesson 1 online.
·       --The book’s webpage (download the table of contents)

BOARD DISCUSSION: Lesson 22 quotes Aubrey Malphurs: “The board is to hold the church to its biblical ministry direction… The problem for churches is that they tend to get lost in ministry minutiae and thus are sidetracked from their mission.” So how effective is your church board at focusing on its biblical mandate and “big rocks”—and avoiding conversations about pebbles and sand?

MORE RESOURCES: Check out the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, including Lesson 23, by guest blogger Steve Moore, "Focus on Mission Impact and Sustainability."