The board's role in governance of a ministry includes policymaking, budget oversight, strategic planning, public relations, fundraising, and so on. However, being a board member also requires having the proper attitude about the ministry.
I was reminded of this the other day when "Sue" called. As the director of a PCC, she was greatly distressed over the actions of another center's board member. "John" had attended a fundraising event for Sue's center. No problem with that; on the surface it shows brotherliness and good will. However, when the event was over, John began to circulate in the crowd and talk up his own ministry, proclaiming it larger and more effective than Sue's center and more worthy of support.
John's actions were inappropriate, whether they were committed at another PCC's event or at any time or place. Why would a person act this way? What's the real issue at heart
It's an attitude problem. We all fight it. It's easy to fall into the trap of believing it's my ministry, that I own it. I've been there. I admit I've acted as though the ministry's success or failure hinged upon my ability to create the right programs, secure the donors and keep them, or have the best reputation. I was the expert, our team was the most capable, and other ministries should learn from us if they wanted to be successful.
Such attitudes certainly are not prompted by the Lord but are the result of pride and arrogance. They bring division to the body of Christ and hinder the work of the Lord.
What did John the Baptist say when his disciples tried to jealously guard his ministry against Jesus' popularity and influence? "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). The corrective is humility.
What did Paul say regarding the divisions in the Corinthian church? He challenged them in the name of Christ to agree to have no divisions among them. He said that they must be united in the same mind and devoted only to Christ. (I Corinthians 1:10-17)
Please consider the following truths and attitudes that are necessary for any servant of the Lord:
• All ministries belong to God; we're only His stewards and ambassadors for His Kingdom. (I Chronicles 29:10-19; I Corinthians 4:1-2)
• All ministries ordained by God have a mission and a vision that come from Him. We should seek His plan for the ministry and be satisfied and excited to serve where He has placed us.
• Since He owns all of our various ministries, we who serve as board members can and should work together for the cause of Christ in our communities. We should strive to compliment each other's work. (John 17)
• As board members, we must lead with humility and a servant's spirit, exhibiting these qualities before the director, staff, volunteers, community, and each other. (Phil. 2:1-5; I Peter 5:5-7)
• We should praise the Lord when a sister ministry is successful and always pray for their success. This may mean coming to their aid in times of need. (Romans 12:9-18)
• The Lord is the provider and sustainer. He alone will meet our financial and program needs. Our security is not in our staff, our board, or our donors, but rather in the Lord Himself! We ought not be concerned about our own image but His!
• Donors belong to God, not to our particular ministry. We must build meaningful relationships with them and keep them informed about how their investments are doing. Our friendship with, and spiritual concern for, donors is more important than the money they send our way.
• The quality of an organization is not determined by its size or outward success, but by its integrity and how well it carries out the mission and vision that God gave it — by the Holy Spirit's power! In the spirit of "to whom much is given, much is required," I suggest that stronger PCCs should mentor the boards and staff of those that are weak in one area or another.
• Because we are serving the Lord in His ministry, we should always strive for excellence and creativity in the work, and then freely pass on to other ministries any expertise that has been gained.
What does this look like in real life? It may mean your ministry donates funds or other goods to a struggling PCC or other ministry. (BFL was on the receiving end of such a blessing last summer when a PCC board authorized a gift to help us get through a difficult time.) It may mean coming alongside another ministry to consult on a specific question or problem. It may mean joining together in prayer over common needs.
Adjectives such as "proud," "territorial," "arrogant," "independent," "self-sufficient," or "selfish" should never be descriptors of a board member's or ministry's character. The God-honoring board will be partners in ministry with others who also serve the Lord, all for His glory!
Tom Lothamer is President of Life Matters Worldwide in Grand Rapids, Michigan.