About Leighton: An Artist of the Soul & Friend on the Journey

leighton-about1Dr. Leighton Ford is President of Leighton Ford Ministries which focuses on raising up younger leaders to spread the message of Christ worldwide. He has spoken face to face to millions of people in 37 countries on every continent of the world and served from 1955 until 1985 as Associate Evangelist and later Vice President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Leighton was recipient of the 1990 Two Hungers Award, which recognized his contributions to addressing the physical and spiritual hungers of people around the world. In 1985 he was selected as Clergyman of the Year by Religious Heritage of America and as Presbyterian Preacher of the Year by the National Presbyterian Center. TIME Magazine singled him out as being “among the most influential preachers of an active gospel.”

Leighton is also Honorary Life Chairman of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, having served from 1976 to 1992 as chairman of this international body of Christian leaders. He has served as a board member for World Vision U. S., the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Dr. Ford is also author and co-author of numerous books. His lastest book, The Attentive Life, Discerning God’s Presence in All Things, was published in May 2008. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife, Jean. Their children are a married daughter, Deborah, a son in business, Kevin, and their older son, Sandy, who died after heart surgery in November 1981.

About Leighton Ford Ministries

Leighton’s call to the ministry of evangelism began when he was very young. From the outset of his life in ministry he was encouraged and guided by significant mentors.

These mentors; Evon Hedley, Billy Graham, and Jack Dain, cared about and had concern for Leighton, not just their own agendas. They cared for him as Paul did Timothy, the protège of whom Paul wrote that he had “a genuine interest in your welfare” (Philippians 2: 20,21). Over three decades, Leighton has had the privilege of preaching in many countries, to large crowds. At the same time his great joy, along with seeing people come to faith in Christ, was to meet and encourage younger men and women, to be a friend to them, and to see them emerge into their own calling as leaders.

Evon Hedley appointed Leighton as president of Youth for Christ when he was in high school, and mentored him in that role. In many ways, this was the start of his living into the role of leader…and mentor.

Anglican Bishop Jack Dain – a missionary leader – preceded Leighton as chair of the Lausanne Committee. When Leighton took the chair, he served as a generous and selfless mentor to him.

About the time Leighton turned 50 the arc of his calling shifted. In part this came from a realization that a major leadership change was taking place throughout the Christian world. Leaders who emerged after the Second World War were getting older. A new generation was coming on the scene with fresh new visions.

sandyJeanie and Leighton also went through a grievous loss, when their son Sandy died during heart surgery at the age of twenty-one. A young man with a heart for God, Sandy was a leader for Christ at his university. His death touched his peers deeply. Sandy was a very good long distance runner, and this loss brought to Leighton and Jeanie a strong desire to help other young leaders to run their race for Christ. God was calling them to a “new thing,” a call confirmed in the words of Isaiah: “Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18,19).

In 1986 Leighton Ford Ministries (LFM) was founded to help young leaders: to lead more like Jesus, more to Jesus, and more for Jesus, and to be kingdom seekers rather than empire builders.LFM began programs of leadership development and spiritual mentoring, aimed at shaping younger leaders to become “sharp arrows” (Isaiah 49:2) in the Lord’s hand – sharp in vision like the point of an arrow, broad in understanding like its base, and deep in God like an arrow’s shaft.

They were teaching about leadership, evangelism, communication, but before long much of Leighton’s own time was spent in long walks and talks with young leaders, wherever they were meeting, listening deeply to their desires and longings, their hopes and heart questions.

While they were grateful for the teaching sessions, Leighton sensed that most of all these young leaders longed for an older person who would walk with them, without having a particular agenda to impose, and would help them to discern what God was saying to them. Together they were experiencing “holy listening,” what across years of Christian tradition has been called “spiritual direction.” It was a term not very familiar in many evangelical circles, but one that now has become much more widely understood and practiced.

So LFM ministry – in evangelism, and of developing evangelism leaders – has flowed quite naturally into the ministry of spiritual mentoring.

For those called to lead like, and to, and for Jesus, we want to be “artists of the soul and friends on the journey.”

Leighton and Evon HedleyLeighton with Evon Hedley

Leighton and Billy GrahamLeighton with Billy Graham

Jack DainJack Dain

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If you would like be in touch with us, you may email us at info@leightonfordministries.org or find us on Facebook.