Good Intentions Don’t Excuse Bad Behaviour or Consequences

It’s been a fruitful journey of learning these last few years. A journey in which I have had to lean into corrective measures and where I have intentionally sought out feedback on how I’m doing. And one thing I have tried to avoid is making these excuses: It wasn’t my intention to do that, or it’s not my fault that happened.

And truthfully, sometimes it wasn’t, but I had to be willing to listen to what my choices did and how they affected others. And then, based on that clarity, I had to intentionally make different decisions based on the lessons I was learning. I leaned in and learnt new behaviours.

And choosing to change your behaviours requires incredible vulnerability. It requires self-discipline to journey through the parts of yourself that we most often want to avoid. It means that there is a bridge that I must cross, and that bridge is leading to a new, transformed me. But the choice is mine. I’m responsible for taking that step of obedience in the right direction. Sometimes it’s scary, especially if behaviours are entrenched in us.

Good intentions don’t excuse bad behaviour – ever.

As I cross from one place of transformation to another, sometimes agonizingly so, I learn lessons. Lessons such as don’t react to everything. Don’t read everything. When I make a mistake, own it, don’t look for excuses for the bad behaviour. Ask for forgiveness when and where appropriate.

It’s so essential for any leader to be mindful that what they do and how they do it affects others – and it touches and transforms their own soul.  It’s vital in leadership to learn new skills and to mine the depths of our souls, seeking to learn who we are and the hurts that we need to leave at the cross, never to be picked up again.

Always remember that your identity is in Christ. Let His truth be the loudest.

Embrace it. Cling to it. Daily remind yourself of it. Meditate on it. Be still in it, allowing it to reach every corner of your soul.

I have loved this Hillsong song in recent months.

Another of my big lessons from these past five years has been this: the ones whom I journey with, the ones who are companions and friends on the journey,  must be chosen wisely. Why? For they will influence who I become as I seek to live receptive to feedback and transformation. I want not to be around toxic people and behaviours. I don’t surround myself with those who make excuses for bad behaviour. I pick the wise, the loving, the kind, the ones filled with grace AND truth because, at the end of each day, their presence in my life makes me a better human being.

We face our greatest leadership challenge every morning in the mirror. – Andy Stanley

Are you stuck in patterns that you know aren’t working? Are your good intentions really just excuses for bad behaviour? When you connect the dots in your life, are you where you are based on the choices you’ve made or not made? Are you an excuse maker? A blame shifter?

Here’s the good news friend, Christ came so that we could have new life! We don’t have to stay where we are. I don’t have to stay where I am, and neither do you. The choices (or excuses) we make today do not have to be the ones we make tomorrow!

Jesus said the following:

I have come as a Light into the world, so that whoever believes in Me [whoever cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] may not continue to live in darkness.” (John 12:46, AMP)

and

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” (John 10:10, AMP)

New life is ours to live! “His grace runs deep.” I choose life. What do you want?

Reverend Carmen

 

Board Series: The Role of the Assistant to the Board

If you’ve been tracking with me for any length of time, you know that I’ve been on a passionate roll to bring some clarity in the area of board governance, especially since taking a board governance class (master’s level) this past year.

If you’re new to my blog and journey, here is a recap of my Governance Series to date:

  • What do governing boards do? Found here.
  • What is the role of the Chair? Found here.
  • Things to consider before saying “yes” to being on a board. Found here.
  • Warning signs of a toxic board. Found here.
  • The director’s voice. Found here.
  • Why does policy matter?  And other miscellaneous questions. Found here.

Boards, if they are responsible for a large number of things, will need assistance. Usually, administrative aid comes to the board via the hiring of a Board Assistant. On some boards this may be a volunteer position while on others it is a paid position. Whichever the case, here are some important things to know.

Board Assistants should sign and be bound by both a Confidentiality Agreement and a Code of Conduct. Why does this matter? It matters because they are privy to confidential information and they are associated with (seen as a part of) the particular board they are assisting. And for an assistant, it is important to note that a signed Confidentiality Agreement endures past your time of employment (whether you quit or your position was terminated).

So how does that play out? It means that while you are and were functioning as the Board Assistant, any information you had access to is still off limits to your friends or other members of the moral ownership. How you behave post your term as a Board Assistant, or on any committee for that matter, will be noticed by others and may have damaging effects for you if you are found to be of questionable character, careless with your words, and are misusing confidential information.

Of critical importance is that the assistant should understand that they are there to assist. They are there to provide much-needed support to the board as a whole. Their role is super, super important in helping a board maintain effective and efficient rhythms.

Some of the ways they assist the board are by ensuring communication is sent out in a timely fashion, regularly updating the Board Policy Manual and seeing to it that the directors continually have access to the most currently approved policies, attentiveness in recording board meeting minutes, preparing documents for the board and any necessary documents that need to be signed by the Chair, and reminding the board executive of important deadlines.  In some active boards, the Board Assistant also helps plan a Chair’s schedule. Here is an example job description.

Now, what are they not there to do? They are not there to push the agenda of one or more individuals either on the board or as part of the moral ownership. They are not there to direct the board or question their decisions. They may ask clarifying questions to accurately understand and record the conclusions the board has just arrived at or the information they want to be communicated, but they are not the Chair or Chief Governing Officer of the board.  Therefore, just like board members are to be carefully selected, so, too, should a Board Assistant.

Several years ago I had the privilege of working with a highly competent Board Assistant. She knew her role well. And not only did she know her role well, she also had a tremendous institutional memory as she and her family had been part of the founding families of the non-profit organization. In addition to that, she had four essential characteristics that made her stand out for me. She was humble, knowledgeable, teachable, and resilient. Given the complex nature of her role, she was able to work collaboratively with the board, was able to engage with the diverse personalities of the board, and was able to add value in tremendous ways because she had a good handle on policy governance and how she could assist the board in achieving its goals.

If you ever have any questions about board governance or have some insightful resources you’re willing to share, please let me know.

Wishing you a healthy board experience!

The Reverend Carmen Kampman

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