Wednesday, March 11, 2020

LESSON 10 – A Unanimous Choice for the Board Member Hall of Fame

Welcome to More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, More 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. Woody McLendon is our guest blogger this week for the second of four lessons in "Part 3: Nominees for the Board Member Hall of Fame.”

LESSON 10 OF 40 - A Unanimous Choice for the Board Member Hall of Fame
She limits her service to one board at a time.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 10, the authors make a strong case that board members should serve on only one board at a time in order to focus their attention on the ministry and its needs. They name the principle behind this idea as “The Law of Diminishing Board Impact: The more boards on which an individual serves, the less impact that individual will have on each board.”

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 10, pages 60-63: 
By being on only one board at a time, a focused board member can…
   • Pray regularly and faithfully for the ministry
   • Relate well to the CEO and respond to information in a timely manner
   • Attend all board and committee meetings
   • Be available for volunteering
   • Focus energy on fundraising for the ministry
   • Increase the board member’s joy in service
   • Include the ministry in personal giving 

Effective boards are focused boards. A major component of that focus is the capacity of each board member to give sufficient attention to the governance of the ministry. Although it may seem like a good idea to recruit board members who are active on other boards, the authors highlight a major downside to that approach: lack of focus leading to diminished effectiveness. 

While some people are extraordinarily well organized and capable of handling many different responsibilities at once, those types of people are the exception rather than the rule. Board members are no different. Focus leads to greater effectiveness. An excellent, God-honoring ministry needs leaders and board members that are focused. 

Paying attention to each board member’s capacity to focus on the ministry is important, not only when looking for new candidates for the board, but throughout each board member’s term of service. Recommending that board members only serve on one board at a time is an excellent way to increase their focus. The authors do a great job of highlighting an area we can easily overlook. 


WOODY McLENDON serves as the President of JAARS, a ministry focused on making Bible translation possible in the most remote and difficult places on earth, through solutions in transportation, technology, media, and training. Before serving in ministry, Woody worked as a systems and software engineer and contributed to some fascinating projects including software for the International Space Station.

When God called Woody and his wife, Mary, into Bible translation ministry, they served several years in Niger, Africa before coming to JAARS. Woody’s passion is seeing God’s people working more effectively together across ministries, churches, and nations. He has served on several boards, and as JAARS President since 2012. He and his wife are blessed with three adult daughters, two sons-in-law, and one grandson who keep their lives joy-filled and active. 

• Are you currently serving on a board? Ask yourself about your own ability to focus on the needs of the ministry in 2020. What should you cut back to focus more?
• Consider your ministry’s board: are all board members focused by serving on only one board at a time? What might need to change in this year? Will you have courage to ask the question?
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 10, “A Unanimous Choice for the Board Member Hall of Fame.” 

March 18, 2020, watch for the commentary by Hal Habecker on Lesson 11, “Thrive With Four Kingdom Values. Set a high standard for the board and the board members.”

BULK ORDERS: Click here. For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

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