Wednesday, April 8, 2020

LESSON 14 – Plant a Seed in the Boardroom

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. Seng Tan is our guest blogger this week for the second of four lessons in "Part 4: Epiphanies in the Boardroom.” And during this COVID-19 crisis, the role of the board becomes even more critical. We pray that your board will have God-honoring wisdom as you spiritually discern next steps.

LESSON 14 OF 40 - Plant a Seed in the Boardroom
Watch the Lord reap the harvest.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 14, the authors note that boardrooms are in fact holy places and spaces within which holy work is—or can be, should be—conducted. Boardroom experiences are fertile ground for planting seeds with board members about their future service in our ministry.  

That said, we often plant seeds practically everywhere—but rarely in our own boardrooms. We never quite know how and when God will use a boardroom experience to speak to the heart of a board member about possible future service in our ministry—whether as a key staffer, as a volunteer, or indeed as the CEO.  

Granted, such developments could conceivably happen “naturally” or “organically,” but the big idea the authors aim to convey is that the process involves a level of spiritual intentionality on our part, where we cooperate with the Holy Spirit through alert awareness to—and focused participation in—His holy work in our respective board members.  

This involves our investment of time and effort to know our board members well, our sharing of relevant ministry opportunities with specific board members as a way to inspire and involve them, and intercession to the Lord on their behalf—that those seeds planted in them may, in God’s time and way and per His will, yield an abundant harvest down the road. 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 14, pages 82-85:
As the authors note, we tend to think of our board members in terms of what and how they may contribute to the ministry. Our view of, and relationship with, board members risks becoming predominantly instrumental and utilitarian—“What can you do for the ministry?”—or, as Janet Jackson might put it, “What have you done for me lately?”  

We risk seeing our board members as assets to be used rather than people to be loved. Lesson 14 reverses that self-centered logic and asks what and how can we contribute to the spiritual—and, potentially, professional—development of our board members. 

Even if they do not end up with our ministry, the fact that we intentionally invest in, inspire, and intercede for them can and will reap benefits for the Kingdom of God more broadly. Helping our board members grow in their own faith journeys with God is as important, perhaps even more important, than their contributions to our ministry.

To my mind, Lesson 14 is a timely reminder that divine calling can be and usually is a dynamic process. God calls us to Himself—that fact does not change—but the specifics can evolve over time.

In his chat with the Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well in John 4:1-26, Jesus pointedly noted that there would come a time where neither (for Jews) Jerusalem nor (for Samaritans) Gerizim would matter any longer, because “a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24, NIV).  

What the given illustration of Paul Nelson’s inspired move from the ECFA boardroom to ECFA’s “workroom” suggests is the sustained refusal by the servant of God to make an idol or monument of place—my Shechem, Bethel, Hebron, or Jerusalem, etc.—and/or of time—when God saved and redeemed in my “Red Sea” experience way back yonder—and to worship and serve God wherever and whenever He calls him or her.


SENG TAN is the President/CEO of International Students, Inc. (ISI) in Colorado Springs, Colo. A former international student and a Singapore national, Seng served briefly as an ISI campus staffer in Phoenix, Ariz., after obtaining a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. Before being called back to ISI in his current capacity, Seng was a Professor of International Relations at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.  His latest book is The Responsibility to Provide in Southeast Asia: Towards an Ethical Explanation (2019).  

• Carve out time to connect with your board members individually outside of board meeting times.    
• Learn what each board member’s interests and passions are. Where possible, connect those to relevant areas of service within your ministry and invite their participation.  
• Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment about their respective circumstances and pray that God will cause that which has been seeded in them will encounter good soil and yield 30-fold, 60-fold, and/or 100-fold returns.  
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 14, “Plant a Seed in the Boardroom.”

April 15, 2020, watch for the commentary on Lesson 15, “Be Intentional About Your First 30 Minutes. Does your board need a refresh—so you experience holy moments more frequently?”

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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