Ever since business guru Jim Collins spoke years ago about building a personal board of directors, this concept has been popular among leaders in various work environments, including the church. Although we want to make a general habit of humbly learning from everyone, it's good to be intentional about the handful of people you choose to most directly influence your actions and your character.
An organization's typical board of directors consists of a group of specialized advisors with diverse perspectives, expertise, and pertinent experiences, all acting in the best interest of the company. Given the many demands, priorities, and opportunities we juggle in our professional and personal lives, having a trusted group of advisors can be quite helpful. Perhaps developing a board of directors is the 21st century application of the exhortation in Proverbs 19:20 (NLT): "Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life."
Do you have a group of trusted guides who speak into your life and influence you toward Christ? Who are the people you find yourself turning to in times of difficulty, discouragement, or decision-making? What do you look for in an advisor or confidante? Hopefully, you choose people of integrity, wisdom, and maturity who help you stay emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy. These should be people who consistently motivate you to become the person God has created you to be.
Build Your Board
So whom should you consider for your personal board? That depends on a number of factors, including your personality, stage of life, ministry role, and personal needs. Your board will likely include a spouse, close family, and/or friends, but you should also consider the following types of people:
This is someone who is more experienced and accomplished in your ministry field—someone whom you respect and would like to emulate. Or it can be someone who works in a completely unrelated area, but demonstrates life wisdom and character you admire. In general, this person is ahead of you in some capacity and can show you the ropes. This mentor relationship is not dependent on proximity, frequent communication, or even a close relational connection.
Some mentors might include a godly parent, a church leader, an influential coach, a trusted friend, or even a Christian writer. For example, one of my mentors is a nationally renowned pastor whom I follow regularly through podcasts, books, and articles because his perspectives on Scripture, life, and spiritual formation resonate with me and consistently inspire me to become more like Jesus.
This is someone who is in a senior level in your organization or ministry field. He or she is not only ahead of you, but has the power and desire to open doors for you. This person cares about your development and is vested in your success. He or she is willing to use his or her influence and expertise to help you grow and move forward. I have a sponsor who believes I am far more capable than I think I am. He provides opportunities, thrusts me into leadership situations, and offers ministry experiences that stretch me. He provides a big picture ministry perspective along with wise counsel on navigating leadership situations and the broader church world.
Spiritual Director or Spiritual Companion
This is someone who helps you pay attention to your soul along the journey of faith. They know you well and can help you connect the dots between what is happening in your life and what God is doing in you. This person is crucial in helping you stay centered in your identity as a beloved child of God rather than whatever roles you might have. Regular times of reflection and conversation with a spiritual companion help me slow down and become more aware of God's presence and activity in my life. This then equips me not to be reactive or driven by unhealthy desires. Instead, I learn to make decisions aligned with God's ongoing work in me.