After three years, I found myself staring into the day I had hoped I could avoid, dodge, pretend would not come. I could no longer go along with how the majority members of the board wanted to handle the affairs of our spiritual community. After all, it was the board that hired me. In the first few months, the honeymoon was a glorious love fest of compliments and support. But six months into our ministry a power struggle began to emerge, secrets came to light, and cooperation became increasingly more difficult to achieve. I prayed, visualized harmony being restored, and decided not to rock the boat; rather, I would keep the peace.
When I woke up that morning with a knot in my stomach just because it was the day of our monthly board meeting, I knew I was in trouble.
The four months that followed were filled with deception, misrepresentations and division. I questioned my call to ministry. The sleepless nights ended when a colleague told me to read 2 Chronicles 20:17. Then I prayed something like “Dear God, restore to me the passion and joy I had for ministry with a vision to serve in a vibrant ministry.” In seconds, a response came from my gut, “Stay, you’re already there.”
The next day I attended the membership meeting that turned out to be a face-off between me and five members of the board who were actively campaigning to fire me. The overwhelming majority of the congregation supported me. The five board members left and about twenty percent of the congregation left during the four-month time of conflict.
That was the experience that urged my decision to make my relationship with subsequent boards a priority. I would make sure all newcomers to our board would be willing to be in relationship with me and fellow board members.
The good thing about starting over with a mostly new board was that while our wounds were fresh, everyone wanted peace and harmony and were willing to do whatever it took.
Fifteen years later we are still doing many of the things we instituted back then: (1) We take an annual retreat that is mandatory for all board members; (2) we pray together once each week usually by phone; (3) before our Saturday morning board meetings, we have breakfast together and check in with each other (this makes for long board meetings, but for us it is worth it); (4) we have an annual board appreciation lunch or dinner where board members can invite partners/spouses; and (5) the 4T Prosperity Class is a requirement for board service and tithing is a must.
We’re far from a perfect community, but the relationships on our board always remind me of Acts 2:46 (KJV): “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.”