Wanted: Lifelong Learners

Would you trust a surgeon who stopped learning?


by Dan Busby and John Pearson


My best friend is a person
who will give me a book I have not read.

Abraham Lincoln

Do we really need another book on board governance? Short answer: yes. Here are three reasons:

First, lifelong learning is critical—especially for leaders and board members who steward God’s work. Read what John Maxwell says about leadership—and check the box that resonates with your aspirations as a board member:

  • “If you want to lead, you have to learn. If you want to continue to lead, you must continue to learn.”
  • “Most leaders want to grow their organization. What is the one thing—more than any other—that will determine the growth of that organization? The growth of the people in the organization. And what determines people’s growth? The growth of the leader! As long as people are following you, they will be able to go only as far as you go. If you’re not growing, they won’t be growing—either that or they will leave and go some­where else where they can grow.”
  • “When a leader reaches a desired position or level of training, there is a temptation to slack off. That is a dangerous place to be. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, says, “The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop leading.”[1]

Second, ministry board members are increasingly taking their board roles seriously. Highly engaged board chairs and board members know that when they say yes to board service, they must continually increase their knowledge and competencies to fulfill this sacred calling.

The challenges of stewarding a ministry are complex. Prospective board members are asking probing questions before saying yes to board service. (And some are saying no.) Many current board members are realizing that they don’t know what they don’t know. Lifelong learning, coupled with more prayer and more discernment, is on the front burner.

Would you trust a surgeon who was not a lifelong learner?

Would you trust an airline pilot who relied on outdated training?

Why should donors trust your board? Is your board on top of the changes that are affecting the ministry?

There’s still much to learn, and our prayer is that this book will be a catalyst for a wider understanding of Christ-centered governance, and a deeper dependence on God.

Third, the role of the board has changed. Ram Charan, governance author, reminds us, “The role of the board has unmistakably transitioned from passive governance to active leadership with a delicate balance of avoiding micromanaging.”[2]

He adds, “With the right composition, a board can create value; with the wrong or inappropriate composition, it can easily destroy value.”[3]

Is your board adding value or subtracting value? How do you know?

ECFA enhances trust in Christ-centered ministries by establishing and applying Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™ to accredited nonprofits. (Does your board review those seven standards at least annually? Can you name three of them?)

So you see, yes, we need another book on board governance. There is so much to learn, and Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom will help and encourage you. We’ll also help you sort out the truly core issues in governance from the rest of the noise and clutter

Our prayer is that you will leverage the insights in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom so that your board will lead with eternity in view.



Board service is not for the weak of heart.
In Christ-centered organizations, it is a sacred calling
that requires prayer and discernment, deep engagement,
and a heart to be a lifelong learner. This book will help you
on this sacred journey to be a competent, committed,
and God-honoring board member.

  Board Action Steps:

  1. Read: Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask by Ram Charan.
  2. Share: Give a copy of Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom to every board member and senior team member. Invite at least one board member per board meeting to share an insight gleaned from the book



Lord, Romans 12:8 says that I am to lead diligently.
Give me a heart to be a lifelong learner in my leadership journey. Amen.



[1] John C. Maxwell, Leadership Gold: Lessons I’ve Learned From a Lifetime of Leading (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008), 125-7.

[2] Ram Charan, Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask (San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009), 1.

[3]  Ibid.

From Lessons From the Nonprofit 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.