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Surrounded by Revolutionary War battlefields, I joined a dozen faith-based nonprofit leaders from across the country for a unique learning experience. Using the methodology of “peer member processing,” our two days together would focus on helping each other go to war on the most significant challenges we faced.

In preparation for the experience, we were asked to come with our response to one simple question: What is the most significant obstacle you are currently facing?

In small groups, we would confront these obstacles, with the goal of helping each leader discover a positive resolution, or at least identify a few of the next steps to take.

Driving to the event, I wondered how many would choose to talk about the seemingly impossible task of “balancing” work and family. Or how many would focus on the challenges of fundraising. Maybe strategy would come up. Or operating in a rapidly shifting culture.

But the issue that felt most urgent was my relationship with my board. We were in a season in which we were facing key decisions and operational dilemmas.

Compounding these challenges was my sense that I was receiving conflicting counsel from several board members. How was I supposed to follow the directions of my “bosses,” when one board member’s advice sometimes contradicted another’s?

Given my deep respect for each board member, and knowing each had the organization’s interests in mind, I was confused. There was no question that our intentions were all in the right place, but our practices were leading to conflict and confusion.

Arriving at the retreat center, the group of nonprofit leaders began sharing their obstacles, and a pattern quickly began to emerge: One after another, leaders shared that their greatest difficulty related to some aspect of their relationship with their board. Turns out, my challenges were not unique.

It quickly became clear that we were each describing variations on the same theme: the board–CEO relationship is exceptionally challenging. It’s a proverbial minefield, with the potential to sabotage an organization: creating dissention, thwarting progress, undermining impact, and knocking it off mission. And it’s not just organizational leaders who acutely feel the challenge associated with this relationship. Board members often grapple with similar issues. Seldom is their relationship with the CEO easy to manage.

Healthy organizations require a healthy board-CEO relationship. Channeled in the right way, their engagement can result in fresh perspectives and new growth rather than perilous pitfalls. For an organization’s health and vitality, there is no more important, or more complex, relationship to navigate.

Over the past year, David Weekley and I have been working on a simple book to help leaders develop a vibrant board-CEO relationship. Today, we are launching this book with the hope that it might equip leaders to have an even greater impact. We focus on seven practices found in the healthiest board-CEO relationships:

  1. Mission, Not Ego
  2. Clarity, Not Confusion
  3. Consistent Communication, Not Mystery
  4. Accountability, Not Platitudes
  5. Healthy Conflict, Not Kumbaya
  6. Prepared, Not Panicked
  7. Involved, Not Detached

Ultimately, for the board-CEO relationship to truly flourish, these practices need be be built on a foundation of service. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Honor one another above yourselves.”[i]

                                                                                                                                                                

B amp CEO CoverF

Today, we launch The Board and the CEO. To learn more about how to successfully navigate the board-CEO relationship, please visit: http://www.peterkgreer.com/board-ceo/

Seven Practices to Protect Your Organization’s Most Important Relationship

By Peter Greer and David Weekley

Available Now!

 

[i] Rom 12:10 NIV

Around this time last year, I celebrated another birthday—and not just any birthday. This was the big one. The 4-Ohhhhnoooo. I went to bed a sprightly 39-year-old and woke up looking like the guy who can’t sleep in a cold medicine commercial.

40th birthday candles

I was finally 40—statistically, my life’s halftime.

I’ve played enough soccer to know the importance of halftime; it’s a moment to pause, reflect on your performance, determine what changes need to be made, and then step back onto the field to finish the game. Because of this, I thought a lot more about turning 40 than I have about any other birthday. (So much, in fact, that I wrote a whole book about it!)

I want to remember some of dominant themes that captured my thinking during my “halftime year.” Here are the things that will stick with me as I live into my second half:

1. Write your eulogy.

Writing your eulogy sounds like a horribly depressing thing to do. Seriously, who does that? Well, I did. And I’d suggest you do it, too.

The benefit is that it forces you to remember that one day, people will gather together, lower you into a hole in the ground, say a few nice words about you, and cover you with dirt. Then they’ll eat mediocre potato salad and go about the business of living until it’s their turn.

None of us can escape death. The question is, in light of that day, how will you live this day? That’s something we can influence. And when we think today through the lens of tomorrow, I believe it makes a difference in how we live today.

Writing your eulogy brings into sharp clarity what matters most, and might just change the way you live your life.

2. Love those you’re closest to well.

When we count our days, we have the opportunity to recalibrate, focusing less on achievements and more on people, especially those closest to us.

We think less about accolades and more about relationships. We obsess less about our full inboxes and more about planning coffee with our parents. We think about saying “no” to the next business trip so that we can be there to read to the kids at bedtime and kiss them on the forehead as they drift off to sleep.

We think about how we can help our friends and family grow in grace, so that together, we can more clearly see and experience a God who is at work in the midst of life’s brokenness.

It has always been easier for me to think more about trying to be successful at work than trying to be successful at home. One of my halftime reflections is that I never want to fail in letting the people closest to me to know how much I love them.

3. Keep your friends.

Research shows that by age 36, most men have made their closest friends. Recently I heard that a shockingly small number report having any close friends at all. Statistically, women tend to do a better job of maintaining their relationships, but by midlife, many of us find friendships to be in dwindling supply—precisely when we most desperately need them.

Life isn’t meant to be lived in isolation. Because of this, I want to prioritize time with friends. In college, I used to run with my roommate as we were preparing for soccer season. Today, we go for power walks. It’s old and lame, but deeply important. (And sometimes, I’m convinced that I can still hear the strains of the soundtrack from Chariots of Fire lilting in the background.)

In a rare moment of hopefulness, the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Though this verse is often quoted during weddings, its original context is actually more suited to refer to friendships in general. Without time and attention, our friendships will drift. Yet we need our friends. Let’s make sure our ropes are strong as we enter the second half.

4. Make peace with your finances.

When it comes to money, few people ever feel as though they’ve “arrived.” There is always more to be had but midlife is a moment to discover contentment.

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to the idea of setting a “lifestyle cap” early on in life. Even if earnings increase, income remains the same, and any additional funds are automatically shared, rather than spent on personal consumption.

As a family, we are working to make peace with our financial finish line. We have enough. And that is a wonderfully freeing place to be.

Halftime is over. It’s time to get back in the game. And I think I’m going to play the second half differently than I did the first half. How about you—how will your second half compare to your first?


40/40 Vision

Learn more about rediscovering who God has called you to be:

40/40 Vision:
Clarifying Your Mission for Midlife

by Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty
from Intervarsity Press

ORDER NOW

Normally, if you went to a conference with the likes of Mark Driscoll (pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle), Rick McKinley (pastor of Imago Dei Community, Portland) , and Margaret Feinberg (author of Transparent Faith), you’d have to pay a hefty fee (and travel a long way).

But at The NINES conference on Tuesday, September 27, you can participate in an annual online conference from the comfort of your home, not pay a cent, wear your pj’s, and enjoy!

Ninety-nine church and ministry leaders  from around the country give practical, often personal advice—and share about when ministry meets real life.

This year I was asked to participate, and  I’ll be providing a few thoughts regarding something I’m passionate about: balancing family and work life.  Below are a few points I’ll cover…

  1. How can we be both excellent at what we do and loving of our family?
  2. How can we better define “success” that helps our families understand they are our number one ministry?
  3. Therapist or life coach? The importance of having others speak into your life.

Join us for the conference.  Registration is free… but you have to let them know you’re coming.  RSVP at http://thenines.tv.