Kari and I recently returned from a trip to North Carolina where we met with many incredible servants of God. We spent time with former board members and their families. We visited with leaders of The Rapid Response Team at The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. What a great and needed ministry. The chaplains on this team show up in the most needed and sometimes most difficult places. I am guessing there is a team heading to Sutherland Springs, Texas. We attended The Caregivers Forum – a gathering of folks who serve those in ministry. We were moved, inspired, and encouraged by all these folks and what they are doing for the Kingdom. But with so much to be done there is always the temptation towards busyness.
One of our favorite experiences was having lunch with Leighton Ford and getting to meet his wife Jean. Jean is Billy Graham’s sister. While Jean and Leighton have endowed standing in the Christian community by relationship to Billy Graham, they truly stand on their own as servants of the King and leaders in the church who have positively impacted untold numbers of folks. We consider ourselves blessed by being among those touched by the faith and lives of Leighton and Jean.
During our lunch with Leighton he made a couple of statements that have stuck with me. One of his statements: “the highest value of the evangelical leader is frenetic busyness.” He said for proof all you must do is watch and listen to Christian leaders. They are perpetually busy and exhausted.
The other statement was in response to a question I had been wanting to ask him. Leighton is a spiritual mentor to many, especially to younger folks in the ministry. He is described as “an artist of the soul and friend on the journey.” He has delved into the world of spiritual formation and deep friendship with Jesus Christ and with those who are passionately pursuing God. Since we minister to Christian leaders at Marble Retreat I had been wanting to ask Leighton a question and finally had my chance. “Leighton, what would you say is the most important thing you have learned that helps Christian leaders stay in love with God?” His response, “Space, time, and listening. It is a friendship.”
Highest value of the evangelical leader – frenetic busyness. Most important thing that keeps us in love with God – space, time, and listening. See the problem?
Ironically, this meeting with Leighton was during a frenetically busy trip where we were bouncing from one meeting to the next. We met with many leaders who are doing so much, and there is so much to do. It is so easy and very tempting to get caught up in “saving the world.” But the risk is that we fall out of love with God and fall in love with the excitement of ministry.
I have since returned to Marble and beside my reading chair in front of the woodstove (yes, the fire is on as it is snowing here) I have a Bible on one side and I have Leighton’s book The Attentive Life on the other side and a view of the mountains in front of me. I am detoxing from frenetic busyness and reconnecting with God.
The mountains of Marble provide a natural escape and the space and time to listen to God. Do you have space and time in your life to spend time with God?
You can check out more about Leighton Ford and his ministry at: https://www.leightonfordministries.org/