One of my mentors-from-afar changed his address last year. Bob Buford moved from his earthly home near Dallas, TX to his heavenly home at age 78 on April 18, 2018. I always admired Bob. A successful business leader, Bob leveraged his visionary wisdom, leadership skills and generosity to significantly contribute to three major landscape shifts in American Christianity. He was a founder of Leadership Network—helping larger growing churches and their leaders ramp up their ability to be more innovative and entrepreneurial so they could multiple their Kingdom impact (our church was one of those). Bob also wrote the best-selling book “Half-time” (which greatly influenced my life) and started the Halftime Institute to help business leaders make second-career shifts from success to significance. And a third contribution, was the launch of the Drucker Institute, to help non-profit organizations learn top-level management skills. Buford’s later life mission was to “transform the latent energy of American Christianity into active energy.”
Bob Buford had a saying about wanting his “fruit to grow on other people’s trees.” Bob constantly invested in the lives of leaders. He had a unique way of influencing high-potential leaders to expand their capacity and then empower them to flourish in their unique calling and gifting. He loved to see the success of others. Bob always avoided taking credit for the success of something he initiated and when someone would try to hand it to him, he would quietly point upwards and whisper “Yay God.”
I’ve never personally met Bob. I’ve read his books. I’ve been personally mentored by one of his mentorees, Lloyd Reeb. I’ve been personally inspired, challenged and encouraged by Leadership Network staff: Linda Stanley, Dave Travis, Warren Bird and more. And I’m grateful that his fruit has grown on my tree. And actually, Bob Buford’s writings and influential organizations are my primary inspiration for loving to see my fruit growing on other people’s trees. Developing and implementing a succession plan in the church I started, can be traced back both directly and indirectly to Bob Buford. Now, my fruit is growing on the trees of my successors.
Philippians 2:3-5 contains Bob Buford’s core values: 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Not always easy, but absolutely necessary—if you plan to see your fruit growing on other people’s trees.