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 also began out of the loss of Leighton and Jeanie’s oldest son, Sandy who was a gifted leader for Christ and excellent distance runner.
Sandy’s legacy inspired a strong desire to help other young leaders to run their race for Christ.
Leighton began the ministry 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.
In 1992 Leighton started the Arrow Leadership Program, using a nonresidential, two-year schedule to train groups of people ages 25-40-many of whom were already in ministry positions-in evangelism and leadership skills.
From the beginning of LFM, Leighton has been urging young men and women to be “kingdom seekers not empire builders.” Therefore, LFM has been looking for kingdom-seeking leaders, “men and women who have a passion to lead for Jesus, like Jesus, and to Jesus.”
Many years ago Leighton took a page from the example of Oswald Sanders, an outstanding mission statesman of his time.
Sanders kept a list of younger people whom he sensed had strong leadership potential, so that he could encourage them.
Leighton began keeping what he called his own “GGTW” list – Guys and Gals to Watch.
When he felt particularly drawn to someone he added them to the list, prayed for them, kept in touch by calls and letters, invited them to spend a day together, and occasionally to join him in ministry. From that list came the first mentoring group – called the “Point Group.”
They came from different parts of the world. The distinctive focus of their ministry varied. So did their personalities and styles.
What they had in common was that passion for evangelism – to lead others to Jesus; that servant mindset – to lead like Jesus; that kingdom-seeking orientation – to lead for Jesus and for his kingly rule.
This triple focus is at the heart of LFM mentoring, and when they invite leaders to take part they try carefully to discern if this is the kind of mentoring they desire and will benefit from.
“Leadership is first of all not something one does, but something one is.” – Leighton Ford
In 2006 when we first met at Rock Hill to launch the Mentoring Community, we knew that our call must include this: to pray that all of us, mentors and mentees alike, through God’s Spirit, will be sharpened and broadened and deepened, “to be a part of God’s transforming presence in their communities around the world.
In the words of the Lausanne Covenant, we want to be deeply committed to the vision of the whole church, taking the whole gospel, to the whole world.
Our focus in leadership is on those involved in evangelism, not just leaders in general. This does not necessarily mean they must be full-time “evangelists” but that they have a passion to share the faith in the ways of their own gifting and vision.