Over 35 years of leadership and since 1998 professionally coaching leaders and executives, I have seen far too many poorly thought through decisions made around agreeing to serve. Agreeing to take on added responsibility, particularly if you are already busy, has major consequences. It impacts time, energy and focus. Ultimately it impacts whether or not true priorities are actually achieved.
Oftentimes Christian leaders and volunteers find themselves serving in areas and in ways that really don’t reflect who they are or how God has prepared them. I was really helped in this area by a book Bobb Biehl wrote, titled Increasing Your Boardroom Confidence. In it he had 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Agreeing to Serve on a Board. He had several other lists and I used every one of them with great benefit.
Over the years I modified and developed my own list of questions based on this book, to ask those many leaders and volunteers who I bore some responsibility for. They weren’t always considering working on a board, but they were considering and being considered for some important service for the Lord. I did not wish them to assume responsibility without taking the time to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider these 14 questions.
If you are being asked to assume a new task, take the time to sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and write out the answers to these questions for yourself. That way you will be very intentional in your thinking and writing it out will capture your thoughts concisely. This will enable you to make a better decision and reflect on what you need to do next as you make yourself available to serve the Lord. With thanks to Bobb Biehl, here’s my list.
- What expectations are there of me in this position? From whom?
- What are my three biggest assumptions about this task? Are they true?
- Am I really committed to this cause and the people it represents?
- Do I have confidence in the senior leadership and feel I can support them?
- Can I make the time for this leadership responsibility without creating excessive stress?
- Do I and my spouse agree about this decision?
- Leadership issues take discernment. Am I a discerning person and can I improve that competency?
- Do I have any hidden agenda that could sabotage meetings or others on my team?
- Are there any continuing things in my life that if people knew about them would disqualify me from serving?
- Are there relationships or situations I should clean up before serving in this responsible position?
- Am I a good team player or do I generally want my own way?
- How have I been prepared for this task? Experience, skills, interests?
- What is being said to me about this decision? Faith, family, friends, mentors etc.?
- To what degree am I willing to change so that I can make a more effective contribution?
Print them out. Keep them handy. Use them. A lot of challenges in Christian service could be eliminated if an exercise such as this would be used.
Helping Leaders and Executives Beat Burnout