Wednesday, May 30, 2018

LESSON 28 - Slow Down and Wait on God

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. Jerry White is our guest blogger this week for the first of three lessons in "Part 9: Holy Ground and Other Locations.”

LESSON 28 OF 40 - Slow Down and Wait on God 
“He does not bestow his gifts on the casual or hasty.”

 In Lesson 28, Lorne Sanny (second president of The Navigators) is quoted on “How to Spend a Day in Prayer.” But the issue for boards is how to best discern God’s will and direction. That is almost a meaningless pursuit if time is not spent individually and together seeking God.

It is not just a matter of specially seeking God for a specific leader, but rather to have been praying and seeking Him all along. It is the regular habit and practice of prayer that opens the door for God to reveal His leading. It also is not a “magic formula” that we try when we are particularly needy.  

The practice of three-fold prayer habits lay a foundation for guidance: Pray without ceasing, a daily Quiet Time, and extended times of prayer.  In the midst of these practices—God speaks. It is the individual board member, in concert with others of like mind and heart, who will see God guide. 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 28, pages 142-146: 
• “One very common leadership mistake is to think that we can take a group of undiscerning individuals and expect them to show up in a leadership setting and all of a sudden become discerning.” (Ruth Haley Barton)
• “During earlier years Dawson [Trotman] spent countless protracted time alone with God, and out of these times the Navigator work grew….by promises given to him from the Word.”
• “These special prayer times can become anchor points in your life, times when you ‘drive a stake’ as a landmark…” 

I once gave a message entitled “Life in the Slow Lane.” My wife laughed, commenting that I needed to slow down first. I never find it easy to take time to reflect and pray. It is a discipline that come hard. God had to get my attention several times, often in crises, to slow me down. Once it was through my son’s death. Another time it was through overwork and depression. Since I am so prone to action and activity, I found that I have had to discipline myself to take time to read, to reflect, and to rebuild. I am learning (I wish I could say “I have learned”) to take times during the year to do this. I find that I am often encouraged by the writings of godly people such as Horatius Bonar, E. M. Bounds and J. Oswald Sanders (a mentor of mine).  

I became much more reflective, thoughtful and prayerful through my 18 years of leading The Navigators—where I could not “make it happen,” but had to rely on God and others to do what I could not do. I began to see the consequences of action without deep prayer, counsel and reflection. “Seek first…” and “in everything by prayer and supplication...” have become my pattern as I have grown in my leadership and in my own maturity. What is more, key members of my board checked up on me regularly on how I was doing in my personal walk. 

Finally, let us not just assume that the CEO or board members are seeking God. Let’s help them do it. Let’s make that a priority in both selection and execution of CEO and board. 


Dr. Jerry White is President Emeritus and Board Chair Emeritus of The Navigators. During his 13 ½ years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, he served in many capacities, including an assignment as a mission controller at Cape Kennedy during the height of the American space program. He earned his Ph.D. in Astronautics from Purdue University in 1970 and was an associate professor of astronautics at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. General White resigned from active service in 1973, and then spent 24 years in the Air Force Reserves in a number of assignments, retiring in 1997 as a major general.  

He has served on numerous boards, including ECFA, and Jerry and his wife, Mary, have written 13 books on practical topics such as work, ethics, and parenting adult children, including: Rules to Live By, To Be a Friend: Building Deep and Lasting Relationships, and The Joseph Road: Choices That Determine Your Destiny. Jerry and Mary have four children, 11 grandchildren, and live in Colorado Springs, Colo., where Jerry is also a nationally competitive handball player!

• Begin today to slow down! Listen to the meditative praise song, “Slow Down,” by Chuck Girard (Dunamis Music).
• Invite a friend or colleague to inquire of you regularly regarding your personal walk with God.
• See the three next-step reading options in Lesson 28, including Pursuing God’s Will Together, A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups, by Ruth Haley Barton.


On June 6, 2018, watch for David Curry's commentary on Lesson 29, "Think and Pray Outside the Box—and the County. Discern your Big HOLY Audacious Goal (carefully)."

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