Friday, November 09, 2012

ppk governance

It is a consistent theme. In the churches, mission organisations, and employers with whom I have been associated over the past twenty years, (almost) without exception they have tackled the same issue: identifying what good governance looks like and trying to make the changes to embrace it.

I am at San Francisco airport on my way home after the annual Langham Partnership meetings in Phoenix. One of the pleasing features this year was the progress made in this area - freeing governance to govern and releasing management to manage. Mixing up the two groups seems to be a persistent challenge for Christian organisations.



My most satisfying experience of governance - either doing it, or having it done to me(!) - was the years at Carey Baptist College when, as principal, I was accountable to a governance Board. I've been trawling the memory bank for why it was so satisfying. You know what I've come up with? I reckon there is a hint of prophet (P), priest (P) and king (K) accompanying effective governance.

With prophet, the mind turns to speaking boldly. In the Old Testament they were more forth-tellers than fore-tellers. They could create discomfort as they asked searching questions and spoke truth in a way which exposed blindspots. An effective Board does this.

With priest, the mind turns to interceding, so enhanced by careful listening. There is a prayerful, pastoral, personal and persistent interest in the people of the organisation. There is the ability to facilitate the coming together of people and/or ideas that are in disagreement with each other. An effective Board does this.

With king, the mind turns to ruling and having the authority to make decisions. It is about weighing the evidence on the bigger issues and then organising things for the way ahead. This is followed by full and clear communication to all 'subjects' - from whom it is reasonable to expect a submission. An effective Board does this.

These three capture so much of how I experienced governance as a leader at Carey. When they are working well, these three are kinda in tension with each other - a bit like a triangular trampoline in which the excesses of one side are always constrained by the other two sides.

Being in the USA during the election has been odd. The media may be full of it, but I have not heard one American initiate a conversation on the subject. The topic is so privatised here - and so polarised to the point of paralysis - that people are unwilling to let their political cat out of the bag. Even on the final day of our meetings - the actual day of the election, for goodness sake - still nothing was said until a Brit offered a short prayer for the USA as we closed. And now as I read the post-mortems in the media - with Obama's agenda and 'what the Republicans must do' to the fore - I do wonder whether there is a link between good governance and good government. Might the new Obama administration, together with the Congress and the Senate, be advised to think and to act with a hint of ppk governance?

But let's never forget that the only one who administers ppk governance perfectly is Jesus himself. He is the true and final and complete prophet, priest and king and when 'kingdom future' comes we will experience this Jesus in all his fullness. But until that day, during 'kingdom present', maybe our governing should carry his image, this ppk image, and be done in his name.

nice chatting

Paul


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