Big Blessings Abound When Governance Faithfulness Flourishes

Two stories: “The Board and the Bachelor Farmer” and “$1.5 Billion Worth of Burger Blessings!”

 

by Dan Busby and John Pearson

 

We come up with our own big, hairy, audacious targets
and expect God to bless and fund them. However, just because
a goal is so big it can only be accomplished if God shows up
does not mean it aligns with His will.[1]

Gary G. Hoag, R. Scott Rodin, and Wesley K. Willmer
 

 

Observing a board meeting several years ago (you can learn many things by listening and not talking), I noticed the uneasy body language around the room after the CEO concluded his board report with, “And now I’d like to read a letter we received this week from an attorney.”

Most of us grimaced. That can’t be good!

But the glass-half-full folks were right. The lawyer’s letter announced—out of the blue—that a bachelor farmer had died, and enclosed was an estate gift for the ministry. The organization was small, but the unrestricted gift was large—more than $275,000!

Ironically, earlier in the meeting, after a team member had reported on some stunning Kingdom results, the board launched into the Doxology in four-part harmony:

Praise God from whom
all blessings flow!

A second rendering of the Doxology almost broke out.

At the end of the meeting, the board chair asked me to pray, and I was blessed with this Holy Spirit nudge to remind the board about governance faithfulness.

“Before I pray,” I began, “think back a few years to when this bachelor farmer was deciding where to invest his estate gifts. Undoubtedly he did his research and concluded that your ministry was worthy of a large gift. But I’m guessing that back then, he also looked at the list of board members to discern if those men and women were faithful stewards of the ministry’s mission, vision, programs, and funds.

“And today, I’m sure, as this bachelor farmer did, dozens of other givers are looking at your board—at your faithfulness—and discerning if your ministry is worthy of their giving. Board faithfulness, every day, every meeting, every year, counts for eternity.”

Traveling home from that exhilarating meeting, I was reminded that big blessings abound when governance faithfulness and management faithfulness flourish.

For example, imagine the faithfulness factors that enabled Joan B. Kroc, wife of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s Corporation, to bless The Salvation Army with a gift in excess of $1.5 billion.[2]

The gift by Mrs. Kroc was designated for the development of community centers across the country, similar to the landmark Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in San Diego, California, that opened in June 2002.

Take note and make no mistake: Joan Kroc was not an uninvolved giver. Reports indicate that after the San Diego community center opened, she would often show up anonymously, sit unassumingly in the lobby, and observe this unique ministry to children, youth, and adults from the vantage point of a quiet visitor.

What did she see, hear, touch, and smell as a quiet philanthropist that birthed the vision for replicating this community center experience across the country? Clearly she observed and experienced governance faithfulness and management faithfulness.

If you’ve been a board member or ministry leader or manager for more than a month, you know that governance faithfulness and management faithfulness don’t come easily.

But also know this: boards of Christ-centered nonprofits are often enviable in their passion and commitment to the ministry. In ECFA’s research of its members, 98 percent of board members “clearly see the board’s work as Christ-centered,” 98 percent “strive to conduct their work with Christ-centered character,” and 96 percent agree with this statement: “It’s very important that we know and leverage the God-given strengths of every board member.”[3]

Every day, eight-hour shift after shift, a community center—and virtually all ministries and churches—require team members who give it all and more for Kingdom purposes. You can’t phone it in. Ministry management is in-the-trenches and get-it-done work.

Let’s replay the video on those days when Joan Kroc visited her community center and ask ourselves: What if the restroom cleaning team had said yesterday’s cleaning was good enough? What if a program director who had been up late with a client emergency cancelled a program because “they owe me a morning off”? What if an unruly fifth grader got “what he deserved” instead of love and compassion?

Praise the Lord—the team at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in San Diego passed the test. Imagine the hundreds of thousands of children, youth, and adults across the nation who are now being ministered to by The Salvation Army because faithful managers and administrators (and board members!) up and down the line showed up and prayerfully and thoughtfully executed their work, never realizing they were on stage.

Look more closely behind every big blessing of God and you’ll likely find a small army of board members, managers and administrators (faithful and fruitful stewards) who show up every day ready for Kingdom opportunities.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:42, “This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing” (MSG).

 

BOARDROOM LESSON
_______________________________

Faithfulness, every day, every meeting, every year, counts for eternity.
As the board discerns direction, practices faithfulness, and prays for fruitfulness,
God will determine the size and scope of the ministry’s impact.

  Board Action Steps:

  1. Read: The Choice: The Christ-Centered Pursuit of Kingdom Outcomes by Gary G. Hoag, R. Scott Rodin, and Wesley K. Willmer.
  2. Inspire: At your next meeting, inspire and motivate your board members with a compelling story of governance faithfulness.
  3. Discuss: How do we monitor and evaluate governance and management faithfulness?

 

Prayer

“Lord, help us to be faithful to the roles You have called us to
in this ministry. May we be ever ready to pursue the Kingdom opportunities
You set before us. Amen.”

 


[1] Gary G. Hoag, R. Scott Rodin, and Wesley K. Willmer, The Choice: The Christ-Centered Pursuit of Kingdom Outcomes (Winchester, VA: ECFAPress, 2014), 31.

[2] John Pearson, “Big Blessings Abound When Management Faithfulness Flourishes,” Christian Management Report (April 2004), 1.

[3] Warren Bird, Unleashing Your Board’s Potential: Comprehensive Report from ECFA’s Nonprofit Governance Survey (Winchester, VA: ECFAPress, 2019), 27. Visit http://www.ECFA.org/Content/Surveys.

 

From More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: Effectiveness, Excellence, Elephants!, 2019, www.ECFA.org/KnowledgeCenter.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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