Dr. Leroy Ford (1922-2012) was one of the most important educators of the last century. He had a very productive ministry in different places as a pastor, writer, and professor. He worked for several years at the Sunday School Board (now LifeWay) where he pioneered the interactive curriculum for adults. In fact, the curriculum was his area of expertise, and many of his books remain to this day as a must-read in this area. As a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he transformed the curriculum of the School of Educational Ministries and laid the foundation for Christian teaching courses. You can find more information about his great contributions to Christian education at this link that honors his life and ministry: https://www.biola.edu/talbot/ce20/database/leroy-ford
I had the pleasure of meeting Leroy Ford during my teaching years at Southwestern Seminary as he had returned to live in Fort Worth, Texas after living for a few years in Colorado after his retirement from seminary. I invited him several times to share in my teaching classes so that my students would have the opportunity to learn from the professor who had designed this course many years before. On one occasion he shared with me a document that he had originally written in 1998 that has been of great influence in my life. In this writing, Leroy Ford reflected on his life and his extensive ministry and mentioned the things that he would do differently if he had the opportunity. This little article entitled “If I could begin over…I’d like to think I would” is full of wisdom and I try to read it at least once a year because it helps me get a proper perspective on my own life and service as a Christian teacher.
This is the list Dr. Ford wrote of the things he would have done differently if given the chance. I encourage you to read it carefully and reflect on what is really important in your life:
- Learn at least one other language.
- Find ways to make memorable the study of Christian history.
- Affirm women students in their call to ministry.
- Read the Bible more expectantly.
- Learn to play without feeling guilty.
- Preserve in retrievable form my own documents.
- Simplify my concept of the purpose of Christian Education.
- View part of my calling as simply to “walk among the people.”
- Minister more consistently “to the least of these.”
- Regard teaching as a fine art.
- Apply more deliberately what the foundation disciplines say about teaching.
- Share more often my own life-changing experiences.
- Attend more to the teachable moment.
- Minister to my own family, too.
- View the church as teaching in everything it does.
- View process-generated meanings as part of content.
- Surround my children with the stimuli of the fine arts.
- Review occasionally the events surrounding my own call to ministry.
- Practice with greater delight giving encouragement to others.
- Apply Cardinal Newman’s advice in interpersonal relations.
- View the work of the church in a more ecumenical way.
- Attend more to what the world’s great literature says about my work.
- View the home as the primary context for the running of life’s race.
- Sharpen the use of curriculum-related terms.
- Grade personally all non-objective tests and assignments.
As you go through this list, what area of your life do you need to change now? Age gives us wisdom, but at the same time, it reminds us that we cannot make up for the time that is already gone. Leroy Ford was an excellent educator and impacted the lives of countless people for many decades and continues to do so today through his writings. However, he himself recognized that he would have done many things differently, although when he realized this, it was too late. You and I still have time to focus on what is really important and necessary. I am thankful for the ministry of Dr. Ford, and I appreciate his wisdom and accept his challenge to do things differently and with the right perspective. Do you also accept his challenge?
Nota: La versión en español la puede encontrar aquí