The Truck Driver Was No Match for the Faith-Filled Board Chair

Don’t stop at “All in favor say aye.”

 

by Dan Busby and John Pearson

 

I remember the story, perhaps apocryphal,
about President Eisenhower and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles.
Dulles was an inveterate traveler. He seemed to be on the go continuously.
At one point during the discussion of a serious problem,
President Eisenhower said to him,
“Don’t just do something, stand there.”
Sometimes it’s easier to be busy than to take the time to be reflective.[1]

Max De Pree

 

Picture this boardroom of faith-filled pioneers: Scandinavian Christ-followers who launched a Bible camp and conference center in the Seattle area in 1919.

As boards do sometimes, they saw a need, approved a motion, and adjourned the meeting. But days later, the need remained and the funding was still at zero.

In the first half of the twentieth century, men and women took on big challenges. Many board members were inspired by and recruited to Kingdom causes. Governance was important, but not as important as launching the programs and building the buildings.

“Welcome to the board. Please bring your hammers, saws, ladders, and backhoes.”

Governance and planning back then had the flavor of Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher, who said, “We have a ‘strategic plan.’ It’s called doing things.”[2]

So in that spirit and after that board meeting, Charlie Johnson ventured onto God’s miracle stage. As board chair of Sammamish Bible Camp Association (later known as SAMBICA) in Bellevue, WA, Charlie was a man of action and a man of prayer. (That’s a powerful combination!)

The board had done the easy part: approved the building of a tabernacle. Two problems though: summer was approaching, and no funds were available for this gathering place—potential holy ground for generations to come.

What to do? Charlie Johnson started with prayer. He returned to the quiet setting on Lake Sammamish and prayed and fasted for three days.

He asked God the Provider to allocate the resources for the tabernacle in time for the summer’s harvest. (I’m thinking he meditated on Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens…”)

On that third day, according to the camp’s 25th anniversary brochure, a large truck loaded with lumber drove onto the camp grounds. Johnson, a man of prayer and action, was ready for him.

“You’re the one the Lord has sent to build the tabernacle!”

The puzzled truck driver looked at Charlie and responded. “No, I’m just looking for an address near here. Can you help me?”

Imagine the verbal contest with this prayer warrior after three days of fasting! I’m guessing the driver was no match for the God-inspired faith of Charlie Johnson.

Impressed with this board chair’s focused and faith-filled action plan, the driver conceded and began unloading the lumber. The historical account notes that following this defining moment, the tabernacle was built in just eight days.

Today, almost a hundred years later, SAMBICA continues to be holy ground for life-changing stories. Today, highly committed board members pray, steward, and act while fully cognizant of the spiritual heritage and legacy from a board chair who didn’t stop at “All in favor say aye.”

 

BOARDROOM LESSON
_______________________________

Sometimes what’s missing is not the strategic plan,
or the capital campaign, or all the i’s dotted and all the t’s crossed.
What’s missing is an encounter with God the Provider.
What’s missing is a genuine heart to implement His plan, not your plan.
What’s missing is a compelling vision that is God-inspired .

  Board Action Steps:

  1. Discuss: If our board has perennial funding challenges, could it be we are too busy implementing our plan and not God’s plan?
  2. Weigh: Do we appropriately balance prayer and action?
  3. Reflect: Do we function with a board mindset of scarcity or abundance? For more insights, read The Sower: Redefining the Ministry of Raising Kingdom Resources by R. Scott Rodin and Gary G. Hoag.[3]

 

Prayer

Lord, we confess to busyness over prayerfulness,
action over reflection, our wills over Your will.
We’re sorry. Help us listen and then act,
but only when You speak. Amen.
 

 

 

 

[1] Max De Pree, Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2001), 21.

[2] David La Piana, The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution: Real-Time Strategic Planning in a Rapid-Response World (USA: Fieldstone Alliance, 2008), 3.

[3] R. Scott Rodin and Gary G. Hoag, The Sower: Redefining the Ministry of Raising Kingdom Resources (Winchester, VA: ECFAPress, 2010).
 

From Lessons From the Nonprfit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings, 2018, 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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