In all thy (governance) ways, pray

When approached about serving on the board of a ministry organization, it’s pro forma that prospective members are asked to commit the invitation to prayer. Board members also are routinely admonished to pray faithfully for the organization and its needs. It’s less often, however, that board members receive encouragement to pray about the service to which they’ve committed themselves and the decisions they will be called upon to make.

Which is odd, since the life cycle of every ministry includes times when prayer is all there is to lean on — when a cry for help is about as much as can be mustered.

As I consult with and serve on boards of faith-based organizations, I’m constantly amazed at the lengths to which boards will go before committing our ways and that of our organizations to prayer. Oh, sure, meetings begin and end with prayer, but in between gavel up and gavel down, it’s business as usual. It doesn’t much matter how messy or excruciating the agenda, we soldier on, carrying the weight of the organization on our frail shoulders.

We’re slow to “let go and let God,” as the saying goes. But when we do, it’s such a relief.

Not that the problems with which our board is grappling will immediately be transformed, no matter how nicely we ask. (If you have an example of instant change, post it in the comment box below.) Rather, it’s board members themselves who are transformed by the power of prayer — their attitudes, discussions, decisions, and actions. And in my experience, it’s the board’s transformation that works “miracles” for an organization for the long haul.


As Anne Lamott writes in Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers, when “we release ourselves from the absolute craziness of trying to be our own—or other people’s—higher power”

we can be freed from the a damaging insistence on forward thrust, from a commitment to running wildly down a convenient path that might actually be taking us deeper into the dark forest. Praying ‘Help’ means that we ask that Something give us the courage to stop in our tracks, right where we are, and turn our fixation away from the Gordian knot of our problems. We stop the toxic peering and instead turn our eyes to something else: to our feet on the sidewalk, to the middle distance, to the hills, whence our help comes—someplace else, anything else. Maybe this is a shift of only eight degrees, but it can be a miracle.

Human wisdom, along with organizational finances, effectiveness, and reputation all ebb and flow, but God is constant, steady, always ready. When we cry “help,” God hears and responds.

This is the board member’s confidence and to that I say “thanks” and “wow.” Do I hear an amen?

What's your take on this topic?

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