Portrait by Dan Williams
I have been revisiting past issues of In Trust recently, examining the matters related to boards and executive leaders over the past 35 years. It’s part of our early planning for a research project related to governance in theological education, and it’s evident there’s some truth to the saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Collectively, we have been talking about many of the same issues for decades.
Case in point: I came across a piece from the late 1990s about how asking hard questions about critical issues at the right time can make a difference, and the necessity for board members to ask thorny, difficult questions and engage in truth-telling. Hard questions demand the straight truth in response, and truth can be difficult to hear.
In the broader culture today, it seems that one person’s truth is not necessarily another’s. But for those of us in theological education, there are ultimate truths that are standards by which we must measure our work. If the first step is asking the hard questions within our institutions, then it must be followed by assessing the confidence in the truthfulness of the responses that are received. We must identify people in our organizations and on our boards who will tell us the hard things and set us straight when it’s needed. Who gives you the straight truth?
In this issue, you can find straight truth in No CEO Goes It Alone. It will challenge your thinking about executive leadership and inspire you to ask hard questions about your institution’s practices and culture. The answers have everything to do with the flourishing of leadership and community.
You’ll also want to consider the straight truth about artificial intelligence (Living with AI). It’s here to stay and its implications challenge some of our widely held assumptions about content and discernment. We are just beginning to probe them.
Our research project is set to get underway soon, the first step in our governance initiative in 2024, and we are considering our own hard questions about practices and models in governance.
What hard questions should we be asking?