Inspired Leaders (with a) Bold Vision (and) Shared Values

Michael J. Readinger

Michael J. Readinger

Every June and November, I attend a full week of back to back Board meetings for CHHSM and then the National Benevolent Association (Christian Church, Disciples of Christ). Two weeks ago, I was with the CHHSM Board and Staff in Cleveland from Monday through Wednesday. On Thursday, I went to St. Louis to meet with the Board of the NBA. Two completely different experiences. I am employed by the CHHSM Board as a servant leader, and I serve on the NBA Board in a voice-without-vote capacity. I experience these board meetings from both ends of the management/governance spectrum, and they are a great way to take a step back and think about the WHY of ministry.

The time I spent focused on the generative, strategic and fiduciary work of governance instead of finances, operations, program and engagement was a nice reprieve from the day-to-day activities of association management. I say it was a reprieve from a normal work week because, in both roles, I am blessed by a deep, faith-based call to action. Additionally, the time away from my computer reminded me of the CHHSM Value Propositions: Inspired Leaders, Bold Vision, Shared Values. I saw these values time and time again all week long with both organizations!

The CHHSM Board meeting explored new strategies about membership models; advancing wider Church engagement through an expanded General Synod presence; the meaning of “covenant” as a relationship, not a contract; the way in which advocacy touches every part of our ministry; the power of partnerships within the Church and beyond; and how to advance the strategic plan across every committee, volunteer and staff person. I left Cleveland for St. Louis with a clear vision of the work we had before us. Project plans, timelines, goals, objectives and the right direction for our work in the months ahead were all mapped out.

When I got to St. Louis, all the management side of my thinking needed to be suspended as I assumed the role of board member. It actually took me half a day to stop thinking operationally as a staff person and begin to soar at the 30,000-foot level, where I could step away from the details and minutiae and be a part of the visioning process for NBA. As a board member, I focused on policies, not procedures; on the impact of programs, not how to staff them; on the core principles of the strategic plan, not on their implementation; and on new ways to advance the ministry of NBA in a sustainable manner.

In the end, both organizations met with auditors and approved the audits; reviewed financials; voted and took actions; discussed programs, staff deployment, strategic plans, and everything else that organizations do at Board meetings. Although I was in a different role at each meeting, I was blessed to remember WHY I am here at this time and in both of these places. I am a cog in both of these wheels of servant leaders who are providing faith-based ministry across the lives of the Church universal.

Two different roles in one week. Both sides of the coin. Management and governance. Thinking about doing and thinking about thinking. So many differences in these two hats I wore, but what became very clear when I finally got home: Both CHHSM and the NBA are ministries that create a haven for Inspired Leaders (with a) Bold Vision (and) Shared Values. Thanks be to God.

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