Friday, January 21, 2011

What Billy Graham Would Have Done Differently

Photo Credit: escapedtowisconsin
One of the most respected men in America, Rev. Billy Graham, is now 92 years old and is approaching his final years on earth. Graham (pictured here with his son, Franklin) has preached to more people in person than anyone else in history. His legacy is rich and his impact is immense.

However, being the humble man that he is, Rev. Graham does have some regrets as he looks back on his ministry and time in the public eye. In a recent interview with Christianity Today, Graham shares about some of the things he would have done differently and gives his assessment of the current state of American evangelicalism.
If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?

Yes, of course. I'd spend more time at home with my family, and I'd study more and preach less. I wouldn't have taken so many speaking engagements, including some of the things I did over the years that I probably didn't really need to do—weddings and funerals and building dedications, things like that. Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything.

I also would have steered clear of politics. I'm grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn't do that now.

What are the most important issues facing evangelicals today?

I'm grateful for the evangelical resurgence we've seen across the world in the last half-century or so. It truly has been God's doing. It wasn't like this when I first started out, and I'm amazed at what has happened—new evangelical seminaries and organizations and churches, a new generation of leaders committed to the gospel, and so forth. But success is always dangerous, and we need to be alert and avoid becoming the victims of our own success. Will we influence the world for Christ, or will the world influence us?

But the most important issue we face today is the same the church has faced in every century: Will we reach our world for Christ? In other words, will we give priority to Christ's command to go into all the world and preach the gospel? Or will we turn increasingly inward, caught up in our own internal affairs or controversies, or simply becoming more and more comfortable with the status quo? Will we become inner-directed or outer-directed? The central issues of our time aren't economic or political or social, important as these are. The central issues of our time are moral and spiritual in nature, and our calling is to declare Christ's forgiveness and hope and transforming power to a world that does not know him or follow him. May we never forget this."
As I approach my forties and make decisions about how I will choose to spend my time, I appreciate the wisdom that comes from one that has faithfully served the Lord for many decades. It's encouraging to know that some re-examination of personal priorities in my life and decisions to reflect those priorities lead me to believe I'm on the right track. I hope that when I come to the end of my life that it can be said of me that I kept the main things the main things.

(h/t to Scot McKnight)

1 comment:

J. Hill said...

I love Billy Graham. I've been to his Library twice now and evertime I go I'm deeply impacted by his life and legacy. He seems to have a humility absent from many of those "popular" evagelist today. His word is wise. Family matters.