Plant a Seed in the Boardroom

Watch the Lord reap the harvest.


by Dan Busby and John Pearson


Help me remember, God, that I can be reassigned, neutralized,
or eliminated for a thousand different reasons at any moment.
My leadership is precarious, hanging by the silver thread
of people’s trust in me. Countless things over which I have
no control can break that thread, including your call elsewhere,
and I will be gone.[1]

Richard Kriegbaum


Paul Nelson was the executive vice president and chief operating officer with Focus on the Family in the mid-1990s. While serving with Focus, Paul was also serving on ECFA’s board. During that time, ECFA was in a presidential search, and Paul was on the search committee. The last candidate had been interviewed.

Meanwhile, back in Colorado Springs, Paul had a spiritual experience while visiting the construction site for Focus on the Family’s new facility. Each weekend, Paul checked on the construction progress.

On that Sunday afternoon, he climbed the ladder to the top floor of the new building. With Pike’s Peak in the background, he surveyed the landscape and the entire architectural layout. From that height, he could see the big picture, and all of the pieces of this project were finally coming together.

Then Paul felt the Spirit stirring his heart, and he found himself praying out loud. In that moment, he sensed that his purpose at Focus was to lead them through the construction of the new building—and perhaps—not beyond.

On top of that building, Paul felt a lifting of the mantle for the first time in his nine years at Focus. Why hadn’t the search committee been able to find the right candidate for ECFA? Paul talked to his wife, Elaine. They prayed about the opportunity. He asked himself, If this last candidate for the ECFA president’s position turns us down, does that mean I’m the one to move ECFA forward?

When that final candidate did, in fact, say no to ECFA’s invitation, Paul called the search committee chair and said, “I think the Lord is speaking to me. I’d like to resign from the search committee and put my name in for consideration.”

Shortly thereafter, Paul was elected ECFA’s president and served with excellence for 12 years.

That holy moment began with a seed—planted in the ECFA boardroom—that led to his call to the top leadership post of the ministry. You never know how and when God will use a boardroom experience to speak to the heart of a board member about future service in your ministry.

We plant seeds with givers. We plant seeds with collaborators. We plant seeds here and there in our personal and ministry lives. But rarely do we think about planting seeds in the boardroom.

Sadly, our focus is all too often on how much board members may contribute to the ministry. Or we focus on how much money board members can raise for the ministry. Yet when we over-focus on the money side, we can miss the more significant opportunities for the people God has placed right in front of us.

Few of your board members will ever sense the call to be your ministry’s CEO. But consider how the Lord might be prompting them:

  • One might say yes to a future $1-a-year position. Most ministries never have enough volunteers. Some of your board members may be the volunteers you are looking for somewhere down the line.
  • One might hear God’s call to a key staff position. Perhaps one of your board members might be your future chief operating officer, chief financial officer, or chief development officer.
  • One might share a ministry opportunity with friends. Your board members may not be prospects for a volunteer or staff position, but they may have a friend who is just the person you need.

Don’t miss those holy opportunities to plant seeds in the boardroom. Invest time in one-on-one meals with board members to help them hear from God. You never know how God will use a story or a few words to bless a board member and the ministry.



The boardroom experience is fertile ground
for planting seeds with board members.
Be alert to ways the Holy Spirit may use those holy moments
to reap a great harvest at a later date.

  Board Action Steps:

  1. Invest: Get to know your board members—not just superficially. Really get to know them.

  2. Inspire: Share short-term and long-term ministry opportunities that may have a specific interest to certain board members.

  3. Intercede: Pray that the Lord of the harvest will use those seeds to yield an abundant harvest in His time.



Lord, help us to be faithful in planting seeds
in the hearts of board members—
seeds that may sprout months or years later. Amen.




[1] Richard Kriegbaum, Leadership Prayers (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1998), 38.


From More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: Effectiveness, Excellence, Elephants!, 2019,

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.