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Christian School Board-Lite, or Board of Light?

The following article is reprinted by permission of Dr. Phil Graybeal. Should you desire more information about his availability, his contact information is below. What type of board is yours? Is it a sugarless, decaffeinated, low cal board that is harmless and powerless, or is it a board of powerfully committed to bringing forth light to dispel darkness?

When as a child I would visit my grandmother in Darlington, MD, our family would drive across the Conowingo Hydro-electric Power Plant Dam. Each time we rode across it I was struck by the strength it exuded. The waters of the Conowingo River were being harnessed on one side and systematically let through gates in the dam in such a way that gigantic turbines whirred into action producing the electricity for the entire area. In a similar way a board utilizing the Policy Governance® system of leadership stands as a dam in the river of the life of the organization. Its design is fully integrated and built not only to withstand the rushing river of issues that surge to its side, but also to systematically deal with them in such a way that there is power and light provided for all. To be a “board of light” the members must do at least two things: First, each member of the board must be fully committed to protecting the integrity of the board’s processes. Board members should have a working knowledge of their policies and scrupulously abide by them. Seldom does the policy manual for any board using Policy Governance® go beyond 35-40 pages. Given that level of relative brevity, it is reasonable to demand that board members know what their policies are and exercise great discipline to abide by them. Boards ought to be just as disciplined about their job as they expect the CEO to be about his or her job. If, for example, boards allow the issues to “flow” around the sides of the dam, then dangerous erosion will occur and the chance of flooding is highly increased below—not to mention that there is less power and light being generated because the issues are not running through the “turbines” according to the design. Let me be blunt: when boards allow consumers or staff members to do “end runs” around the system and steal board time and energy with things that should have been handled otherwise, then the world is a darker place and the integrity of the board has been compromised.

Secondly, each member of the board must abandon self-interest for the benefit of the whole. No, that doesn’t mean that spineless jellyfish make the best board members. In fact, the opposite is true. But it does mean that “personal agendas” must be sacrificed on the altar of what is best for the organization in light of its mission. The board draws value from rigorous diversity of opinions and strong debate, but once a decision is made for the good of the whole, then unity must prevail. Board members that refuse to honor the boards’ commitment to “speak with one voice” should be disciplined and, if necessary, dismissed. Board work is serious business, and only as board members take their role seriously will the work of the board produce the “power and light” that the world so desperately needs. Board prayer - “May each of our acts generate enough light for others to see You more clearly.”

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:16

Dr. Phil Graybeal served as administrator of ACSI accredited schools for 22 years and was a member of the ACSI Executive Board prior to entering full-time consulting in 200l. His firm, Graybeal and Associates, LLC (, is committed to helping boards and administrators understand their respective roles toward the goal of governing excellence.

article by Phil Graybeal ​© by SchoolRIGHT, LLC., unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved.


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