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What Does it Mean to be a Governing Board?

Much Pregnancy Resource Center literature teaches that boards should be “governing.” What exactly does this mean? In his article, What is Biblical about Policy Governance®?, Dr. Richard Biery, M.D. has written the following to help understand the Biblical basis of governance.

 "The Gift of Governance – Paul in Romans 12 lists several of the gifts of the Spirit and in verse 28 notes that God has gifted the Church with people of certain gifts, apostleship, prophets, teachers, miracles, healing, helps, administrations, and kinds of tongues. However, the Greek word translated “administration” is much better translated “governance.” It has very little to do with what we today call administration (implying organizing abilities). It is rather the word kubernesis from the root kubernao.

The word had come to mean rule, having mastery over, or to govern but was originally more specifically drawn from naval terminology and was the word for the ship’s officer who stood beside the helm and gave directional instructions to the helmsman, an individual on the order of a pilot or captain. We would say today the officer who has the command of the bridge of the ship. It included the idea of mastery of the direction the ship should take. (That very role has come down through 2000 years of naval practice and is still observed on today’s ships.) The Romans took the word and converted it to gubernare, which reveals its close kinship to today’s English word, govern. So, too, in Roman practice the term meant to steer or command the helm. Note the difference. The gubernare did not run the ship or the details of the ship. Rather this person had the purpose of the ship in mind – to reach a certain port, and knew the direction to steer to get there. Other people ran the ship. The gubernare had a much more strategic role and was supposed to look ahead, guiding the ship to achieve its purpose safely. This is governance. It hasn’t changed for 2000 years. This capability is what Paul had in mind when he selected that word."

This view governing can lead to a great discussion at your next board meeting. You may want to be sure that you are not so mired down in trying to run the ship that there is no one taking care of steering it.

What is Biblical about Policy Governance®? by Dr. Richard Biery, M.D. 2002

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