Monthly Archives

August 2018

My Journal Jottings

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The pods are falling

The pods are falling! the pods are falling!


From our back porch I hear them,
pecan pods discarded
from high above,
in tiny explosions
popping on the cushions,
clanging on the metal chairs,
plopping on the grass.
Chicken Little would be dismayed.
As for me, I hope none will hit me on the head,
but otherwise these are happy sounds,
signaling that
the heavy heat of summer
is on the way out,
that fresh opportunities of fall
are on the way in.



They lead me into a singing prayer:

Summer and winter,
springtime and harvest
sun moon and stars
in their courses above.
join with all nature
in manifold witness
to Thy great faithfulness,
mercy and love.


I lift my coffee cup to the Lord, sying

“Thanks for pouring out the heaviness,
for pouring in the freshness.”
Leighton Ford
August 30, 2018

Leaders of Light and Dark

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The light side and the dark side are both there, and over the years these have been at constant war with one another. I have seen the light side far more in evidence than I have the dark, and everyone I know who has worked closely with him agrees: while both are part of the “real” Nixon, the light side is by far the larger part, more central, the one that he himself identifies with.

I read this take on Richard Nixon by one of his key speechwriters, Ray Price in the epilogue of Evan Thomas’ BEING NIXON, A Man Divided.

Reminds me of one of the most unusual definitions of a leader that I came across years ago, from Parker Palmer:<
“A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to project on other people his or her shadow, or his or her light.”

I have often shared that with younger leaders, reminding them (and myself) every leader, including Biblical characters like David, and except for our Lord,  projects both darkness and light.

A brilliant young Asian leader I admire wrote a paper on leadership for a doctoral course with the late Peter Drucker.   Drucker returned it with a handwritten note: “You know a lot about leadership. But not much about yourself.”
How crucial self-awareness is for leaders. And how painful to allow the light of God’s Spirit to reflect light and also reveal dark places in our lives, that the Light of the World may clearly shine through our lives.

Parable of the Ginger Plant 

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When some friends moved they gave is this lovely plant, which now stands on the patio in our back yard.

Each winter we cut back the growth, and leave the root system in the pot inside. Then in the spring it springs again!

This year we thought we had lost it. Our son in law Craig and daughter Debbie came to work on some plants. Craig at Deb’s instruction dug up quite a few pots with a spade.  But he also spaded and chopped up the roots of the ginger plant – before asking Deb. He was chagrined. We were devastated. No more ginger for us.

But then, in a few weeks, out of the devastation and ruin a few shoots came up and before long the whole plant was there in its glory – even better than ever.

Reminds me of Jesus’ words that the Master Gardener cuts back every branch of the vine so that more and better fruit can appear! (John 15).

I need to look at that ginger plant often, in those less than pleasant times, to remember that God has surprises that come out of some of the most disappointing times!


A Whole Life

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This morning I picked up an old copy A Testament of Devotion by the Quaker philosopher and spiritual guide Thomas Kelly .

On the flyleaf I noted that my mother gave it to me on my birthday, October 22nd 1958! 60 years ago … as I was early in our ministry.

In his opening biographical introduction Douglas Steere wrote of Kelly:

“An adequate life might be described as a life which has grasped intuitively the whole nature of things, and has seen and felt and refocused itself to this whole. An inadequate life is one that lacks this adjustment to the whole nature of things – hence its twisted perspective. its partiality its confusion. The story of Thomas Kelly’s life is the story of a passionate and determined quest for adequacy.”

What a challenge to me again, to live the whole of  life – mind, soul, body, spirit – wholly available to the Spirit of Christ.

My Journal Jottings

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I used to sit on the back porch on Thursday mornings with Irv and Jonathan and Nick. We would talk and pray together. Irv is in heaven now, Jonathan’s in Mexico, and NIck comes at other times.


I do have other friends though who still join me. Redbird. Mr. Squirrel and his playmate. Chipmunk who chews with his fast teeth. And sometimes Brer Rabbit passes through. So I do have feathered and furry friends.


I’m telling the Lord this of course.

In Memory and Appreciation for Todd Hahn

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The sudden loss of Todd, who died during his sleep in May, was a shock to all of us who knew him.

Todd grew up in Charlotte but we got to know him best when he and our son Kevin met at UNC-Chapel Hill. Kevin regarded him as a friend and in many ways a brother.

His wit and skill with our website, and his fountain of ideas was so valuable.

He was such a gifted person, as a thinker, and writer. He served the Lord in ministry, starting two churches here in Charlotte. He also worked for some time as a consultant in TAG, Kevin’s consulting group.


I was privileged to know him, mentor him a bit, follow him with interest across the years.  He was aware of the personal challenges he faced, and struggled with across the years.  But his bright mind, smile, warmth will always stay with me. I am thankful to have known him, miss him along with his devoted family and friends, and look forward to our reunion with the Lord.

Song of the Second Fiddle, one of Todd’s books (available on Amazon)

This is one of the best books of those Todd authored.  There are many books on leadership, but not many on followership. This is well worth reading.

His interview in the with Irv Chambers, my own long-time associate and friend, provides a superb model of a true follower of the Lord and servant of others. I miss them both. That chapter is available to read here. 



At Windy Ridge

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I am at Windy Ridge an old house in the Virginia Hills for an overnight retreat with four guys and quite a few cows. it’s very quiet. One car passed by since we arrived yesterday. Otherwise quiet. We’re here to listen to one another and the Lord.

Evangelism under the cross

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I’ve been thinking a lot about evangelism under the cross.  Not a gospel for success but in suffering. So I was moved by an interview with the late Joe Carter.

How the gospel touched the slaves.

Here’s what he said came together in the lives and the spiritual sensibility of those slaves that connected them so powerfully to the best attributes of Christianity not often practiced:

One thing that occurs to me, if we go back to the cultures of the slaves that came from many different African nations and languages, one thing they had in common was they believed in a supreme deity. But they believed he was very busy and very, very holy, and in order to get to him, you had to go through the ancestors.

It wasn’t very dissimilar to the way Europeans felt with the saints, and so on. When slavery took place — and there was also this concept that you commune with deity with magic, shining songs. If your songs come forth with great fervor, you not only reach deity, but deity comes and possesses you, becomes part of you, and gives you the strength to do whatever you’ve got to do to win your battles, to harvest your crop.

And when people were taken suddenly as slaves, when they were literally kidnapped from their normal lives, whatever those lives were, they were taken away from the land of their ancestors. The spirit of the ancestors couldn’t cross the water. And so, when they were taken on these boats away from their homes, they experienced the most deep desolation possible, because not only were they being removed from their friends and kindred, but they were being removed from their God. And they had no way to get to God, because the ancestors were way back in Africa on the land.

When the slaves heard about this Jesus they were not impressed by the master’s Christianity.

Because they saw all of the brutality, they saw all the hypocrisy, and were the brunt of it. But they heard about this Jesus, this man of sorrow who suffered, and they identified. And then they were told that Jesus is the Son of the High God. “No. Wait, the Son of the High God? We can get to the High God through this guy? And his story sounds like our story? He’s born in terrible circumstances, he’s mistreated. He’s finally abused and killed. My goodness. Maybe He will carry us to the High God.”

The gospel for another kind of slavery

Somebody who’s perfectly free and perfectly rich and perfectly powerful in the world’s terms doesn’t escape from suffering.

And the worst kind of bondage is that which takes place in the inside. When we look back to the slavery days, we were bound, but it was the master who was really the slave. And I think some of us understand that now. But I experience in my own life great strength from telling the stories and looking back, because I see what they went through, and I haven’t experienced anything like what my ancestors did. And I complain about everything.

Joe Carter’s words are worth pondering as we are called to the task of evangelism in a world of suffering … and of empty affluence!

We’re Back! And Welcome New Readers

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For some weeks now we have not been active on the website, due to the unexpected and sudden passing of Todd Hahn, who managed our website.

Now we are ready to start posting again – with a new manager for our website: Chad Wallace. Chad manages digital communications and is an adjunct professor at Belhaven University, in Jackson, Mississippi, and was highly recommended to me by Roger Parrott, president of Belhaven, a member of our LFM board, and a long time friend.

Chad has long experience and talent in this area. Most importantly, he is committed to the Lord, and wants to be part of our LFM vision – to help leaders to lead to, like, and for Jesus!

As we start posting again be watching for My Journal Jottings – as from time to time I will share thoughts, insights, quotes, readings that speak to me day by day. And make suggestions for your own readings.

We will also restart a video series of Odd Places and Peculiar People (peculiar because memorable not weird!). These will feature unusual places of settings where I’ve spoken and ministered, and people who have left a lasting impression. And often lessons I have learned which may be helpful.

And we will also feature other articles, musings, writings from various sources, including those involved in leading our Mentoring Community.

So again: welcome back. And please stay in touch,

Your friend on the journey, Leighton