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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

LESSON 3 - Assess Your Boardroom Demeanor and Engagement

Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Kim Triller is our guest blogger this week.

LESSON 3 OF 40 - Assess Your Boardroom Demeanor and Engagement
Does anybody need to make amends?

 In Lesson 3, we learn that true Christ-focused board governance involves:
• Humbling one’s heart with specific requests for God’s guidance at the onset of a meeting.
• Earnestly listening for God’s voice and the Holy Spirit’s nudge throughout the meeting and then heeding the nudge by appropriate action.
• Being mindful to conclude the meeting with opportunity to ensure unity in participation and relationships among the board members.  

Using examples from Bill Hybels’ book, The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God. Having the Guts to Respond., the importance of responding to prompts from the Holy Spirit while serving as leaders in God’s ministry is well explained. The work of governance can then be approached with a proper mindset and with strength in what the Lord can do. It is no longer “just a board meeting,” it is a God-ordained invitation to enter in the process of fulfilling His vision through your ministry. This reality keeps board members attentive to maintaining unity, clarity, and proper engagement.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 3, pages 10-12: 
Prayer: “Lord help me to speak thoughtfully and cautiously. And when I don’t, may grace abound. May we have Your mind on the matters we discuss. Amen.” 
• Referencing James 1:5 (“If any of you lacks wisdom…”), Bill Hybels comments, “The challenge isn’t whether or not He will send it [wisdom], but whether or not we will hear and heed it.”
• Dan Bolin: “Help me voice my opinion with care, strength, and meekness.  Help me to say nothing degrading and nothing that would draw lines of conflict unnecessarily.”

Imagine what progress can be made when mindful prayers like these are purposefully prayed: the Lord responds throughout the meeting by making His will known, leaders perceive it, and leaders take the necessary action to make it happen. When God actively participates in the process—and board members actively listen and respond accordingly—unity should naturally flow. 

I have had the opportunity to observe Christian non-profit boards at work. It is not uncommon to watch meetings where the board opens in prayer and proceeds to go step-by-step through the meeting or retreat agenda. They do the work of discussion, decision-making, and vision casting—followed by drafting a plan. Then, at the end of their time together, they pray and ask the Lord to bless the plans they have made or the policies they have adopted.  

“God-given visions are always impossible to achieve apart from God,” note Richard and Henry Blackaby in their book, Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God's Agenda

The preeminent  theme in Lesson 3 is the acknowledgment of the board’s participatory role in God’s ministry through leadership. It is God’s plan for the ministry (not their own) that the board aspires to discern. He is present in every meeting and is a willing participant in the decisions being made.  

When boards, through earnest prayer, ask God to give them His mind on matters they are discussing, they can more easily discern God’s voice and live out the plan He has made for them. This should give the board more confidence in their actions on behalf of the ministry, more faith in the future for the ministry, and more joy in participating in work that is so close to the Lord’s heart. 

The Board Action Steps at the end of this chapter can help board members change their board meeting mindset to a more Christ-focused one. This also helps members approach governance with healthy expectations and better understanding that each person called to serve on that board has a special purpose in that calling.  Prayer and working in unity—while acting on the nudges from the Holy Spirit—will protect the ministry and further the mission. 


Kim Triller is Executive Director of Care Net Pregnancy & Family Services of Puget Sound in Washington State. Care Net of Puget Sound currently has seven Medical/Family Services Centers, a Mobile Medical Unit serving in Seattle, and additional community outreach programs and services that have met the needs of over 250,000 individuals since its inception in 1982.  Kim also serves as an approved trainer for Care Net National and in 2017 as a board coach in the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Board Leadership & Development Program. 

Assess your board meeting agenda and regular board meeting practices. Are you ensuring that participation is given by all board members in a manner that respects the individual speaking and promotes unity in action?
• Ask each board member to choose one of the Board Action Steps on page 12 and complete it for the next meeting. 


On Dec. 13, 2017, watch for Bob Andringa's color commentary on Lesson 4, “Do Unwritten Board Policies Really Exist? Can't find that 10-year-old policy? You need a BPM."

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