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The Gift of New Board Members By Kim Triller

The Invaluable Gift of New Board Members

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

I Corinthians 12:4-7

BOARD DUTY

As steward leaders, it is the duty of all board members, new and longstanding, to speak up when nudged by the Holy Spirit regarding an issue being discussed. Although it may be contrary to the general flow in the board’s deliberation, what is shared may give pause and insight to the issue that others have not considered. Once nudged, one should share without reservation.  Regardless of whether the comments shared affect the final board decision or are useful to enhance the motion prior to the vote, one’s faithfulness brings blessing to the whole board and ministry. Because of this alone, it is wise to express gratitude and affirmation for the new board member, especially if their comments are uncomfortable or unconventional.

“If you are not strong enough to state your position on an issue, remember that God places people on boards because of who He made them to be, the experiences He gave them, their education, or their perspectives; He wants the contribution that only they can make to be a benefit to this particular ministry and this particular time.” John Pellowe (1) Serving as a Board Member, 19.

ENCOURAGE INPUT

It may be difficult for new board members to share their thoughts in front of a group of seasoned leaders.  The same is true for quiet members, no matter their tenure on the board.  Starting each meeting with an activity or simple thought-provoking question that each member can answer helps build relationships and strengthens the team. It also serves as an ice breaker and gets every member speaking before the meeting begins. New board members are more apt to contribute as soon as they understand it is their obligation to share their thoughts.  Wise boards welcome their input.

VALUE PERSPECTIVE

Although new board members may have much to learn, they are a true blessing from God as soon as they begin their service. New board members are not yet engrained in the organization’s culture, assumptions, and methods. It is healthy to seek new member’s thoughts and test ministry effectiveness in reaching your target audiences as social, economic, and other trends change.

LISTEN CLOSELY

More importantly, listen to the new members.  Each of them will be coming from a different perspective which should enable the board to pause, reflect and grow in their understanding on how best to fulfill the promise we make to our constituents. Boards benefit from robust discussions prior to decision making and do so, with respect for each member.

“Meetings are a good place to discover whether an organization might be suffering from groupthink.  If everyone in the room seems convinced of the brilliance of an idea, it may be a sign that the organization would benefit from more dissent and debate.” (2) Donald Rumsfeld, “Rumsfeld Rules”, 39

INCREASE UNDERSTANDING

As Christians, we recognize the significant changes in our society, in our clientele, and in our ways of communication. Christian ministries are facing new challenges from society which can affect the ability to serve.  Diverse Christian boards can: cultivate a better understanding of our mission, better meet the needs of our target audiences, approve new needed program services, expand available resources, and help fulfill God’s future vision for our ministries.  The gifts and talents God has provided with new board members can help these tasks to be accomplished swiftly and more efficiently.

“The highest form of delegating is to lay the leadership mantle on key people for particular goals and then follow their lead.”  (3) Richard Kriegbaum, “Leadership Prayers”, 29

GOD ORDAINED

Steward leaders serving in Christian ministries are God ordained.  They know they are participating in God’s work and must follow Him by serving in His way. By intentionally listening and learning from our new board members, we can better adapt to fulfill the mission of service to others while maintaining God’s kingdom focus, the ministry’s core values, and essential principles. Boards may then discover new ways to better govern, strategically plan, ensure sustainability while giving God all the glory.

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Kim Triller has served the Executive Director for Care Net Pregnancy & Family Services of Puget Sound for the past 27 years.  She has been a consultant and national trainer for Care Net National and currently also serves as a Coach for Murdock Charitable Trust’s Board Leadership Institute- Faith Based training program.

 

 

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