When evangelist Leighton Ford was actively traveling the world for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, he noticed an age gap among evangelical leaders.
There were the sixty-something organization builders—visionaries who were part of the energetic generation that emerged immediately after World War II. And there were the younger, thirty-something entrepreneurial folk. However, the talented people in their forties and fifties seemed to be managers rather than creators of ministries. In the generational cycle from entrepreneurs to managers and back again, somebody had to mentor the young risk-takers.
Ford, who celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday last month, marked the tenth anniversary of his focus on developing leaders in their late twenties and thirties. "We work to sharpen their vision, shape their values, and share their ventures," says Ford of his Arrow leadership program. This era is like the late 1940s, he says, "all these fresh faces with a heart for the world."
After a decade, Ford says he now has a sharper sense of what it takes for leaders to grow. Among other things: "senior mentors, who are very available to them, meaning not just time but vulnerability." To practice being vulnerable, Ford has spent recent years learning to deal with his "shadow side" in order to help young adults confront their own.
Ford's concern for younger leaders emerged in part from the death of his son Sandy during heart surgery 15 years ago. God used that tragedy, he said, to focus his and his wife Jean's attention on younger leaders: "That profound personal loss made us want to invest in others. Sandy's life was like a seed that falls into the ground and dies. But others have been raised up."
He was also inspired by what ...1
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