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Self Care for Board Members

A wishing well on green grass

By Renee Ruchotzke

Serving on a congregational board can be both rewarding and stressful. Some stress is natural, but certain kinds of stress can lead to burn-out. It's important for board to develop a culture that supports board members in their work as well as in their own growth and development.

Keep Board Meetings Focused and Productive

Sometimes the board's agenda is filled with minutia or decisions needed that don't have enough information or data. Instead of listening to everyone read their written reports, send the reports out ahead of time. Make sure there is time in every meeting for high-level discussions around mission and vision.

Don't Take On Other's Anxiety

Most unhealthy stress comes from being triangulated into someone else's problems. As a board member, you will be a part of decisions that will disappoint some in your congregation. Remembering that you are a fiduciary of the mission and not the opinions of your fellow congregants can keep you focused and develop anxiety Teflon®.

Stay Connected to What Feeds You

Many leaders make the mistake of cancelling all of their other activities at the congregation when they serve on the board or on other high-commitment committees. It's important to continue to enjoy the aspects of congregational life that you care about enough that you decided to "give back" through your service of leadership.

Play Together

Create opportunities to spend social time together as a board with spouses and families. It will help you get through the stressful times together.

Keep Worship Time as Sacred Time

Make "no board business on Sunday morning" a part of your board covenant. 

About the Author

Renee Ruchotzke

Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) has served as a Congregational Life Consultant in the Central East Region since September of 2010. As program manager for Leadership Development, she is responsible for providing consultation, programming and training material (including webinars and videos) on...

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.