Your Ministry’s Most Precious Commodity?

By John Pearson

Yesterday I heard a political consultant note that the primary role of a U.S. presidential campaign manager is to leverage the candidate’s very limited time.

It made me wonder—should more boards focus on how CEOs steward their time? Who’s watching and weighing in to ensure that the CEO does ONLY what the CEO should do (not tasks/roles others could do)?

My opinion: I agree with board members who often whisper to me in the boardroom hallway, “Our CEO doesn’t delegate enough.”

Warren Buffet famously said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘NO’ to almost everything.”

(Sorry for the side alleys and meandering paths I’m taking today, but—stick with me—and I’ll get us to the destination.)

The authors of The Presidents Club would also agree. They write, “The most precious commodity of the United States of America is neither the gold bullion in Fort Knox nor the launch codes in its ballistic missiles. It is the time of the commander in chief: there is only so much of it, and how it is spent shapes pretty much everything else.”

So what is the appropriate role of the board in staying high enough to govern effectively (and not micro-managing), but savvy enough to discern how their CEO is stewarding her time? A good place to start: get board agreement on the topics, metrics, and S.M.A.R.T. goals that should be addressed in the CEO’s monthly report to the board.

Next, inspire your CEO to have a hands-open posture (high transparency) and regularly seek the counsel and wisdom of the board.

As a young CEO in my first year of what is now called Christian Camp and Conference Association, I asked my board this: “I can’t visit every camp and conference center in all 50 states, should I visit any in my first year?”

Their answer surprised, but also blessed me: “No! Unless the visit involved board or committee meetings or regional gatherings.” That counsel removed a huge burden. In my 11 years at CCCA, I ultimately did visit dozens and dozens of member camps—but my wisdom-filled board gave me permission to focus first on our agreed-upon highest priorities.

One more idea: In What You Do Best in the Body of Christ: Discover Your Spiritual Gifts, Personal Style and God-Given Passion, Bruce Bugbee, shares a convicting question from a colleague:

“Why are you doing what others can do,
when you are leaving undone
what only you can do?”

Psalm 90:12 reminds us, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

QUESTION: How effective is your CEO at numbering his or her days—and how best could you be helpful, without micro-managing?


This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.


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.