What does the Bible say about being a charity trustee?
By Kate Nicholas
The Bible is full of wisdom for charity executives, but what about being a charity trustee or running a board? Well, I suspect the writers of the Charity Governance Code knew their scripture, or at least God’s law was written on their hearts, because many of the principles it enshrines are deeply Biblical. However, as Christian trustees we are also accountable to a higher power, so here’s what the Bible can tell us about conducting ourselves as Christians in the board room.
Integrity is a fundamental principle emphasised throughout the Bible. Proverbs 11.3 states that “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” We are required to act in a manner that is honest, transparent and that aligns with our values, even when no-one is looking.
Matthew 25:21 records Jesus’ parable of the talents, in which he commended the servant who managed well the resources that he was given, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been ruler over few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” As trustees we have been give the sacred responsibility of stewarding God’s blessings wisely – financial, human and natural – for the benefit of those we serve.
Stewardship is not an easy task in the midst of economic uncertainty but in 2 Corinthians 5:10 it’s written, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him/her for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.” As trustees we will be held accountable for the decisions made in the good times and the bad.
Ephesians 5:11 reminds us, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Clear, honest and accurate communication should be the hallmark of any charity board, even when it comes to difficult issues. Transparency builds trust and credibility, both of which are essential for any organisation to operate.
As trustees we should seek to follow the example of Jesus, who “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matt 20:27). Servant leadership turns organisational hierarchies upside down and rather than sitting at the top of the organisation, the board act as a foundation, serving not only the CEO and executive team but all staff.
Fairness and justice
“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 8:6). The Bible consistently emphasises the importance of fairness and justice; trustees are required to treat all stakeholders and staff with fairness, and to seek justice and restoration on behalf of those we serve.
Compassion and humility
As Paul points out in Colossians, “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (3:12). In the board room we must be humble enough to recognise that success is down to collective effort, no matter how wise we feel our counsel has been! Humble trustees recognise the contribution of others and are open to fresh perspectives. We will not always agree with each other (well-functioning boards will bring to the table a variety of perspectives) but we do need to be willing to try and understand each other’s viewpoints and to treat each other, staff and those we serve with gentleness, patience, kindness and compassion.
Wisdom and discernment
And finally we must “lean not on our own understanding” (Prov. 3:5) and rather seek to discern God’s will. We all bring our expertise and experience, but ultimately as Christian trustees we need to always seek God’s guidance to ensure that we are listening to his voice and not just our own. “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2:6).
ABOUT KATE NICHOLAS
Kate Nicholas is a best-selling Christian author, preacher and consultant with Action Planning and, in her latest book, Soul’s Scribe, Kate looks at how to understand and share your “soul story” or faith journey. Find out more about her books, TV show and online courses at https://www.katenicholas.co.uk
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