So You Want to be 99 and Blameless?
Someone great departed Earth last week: Billy Graham’s spirit left his frail body and went to heaven.
He will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol this week. All Congressional business will stop those two days. How did this simple North Carolina pastor dominate the world’s religious headlines for almost 70 years?
Here are my takeaways from his life:
1. He stayed with the Bible.
- Dr. Graham had no opinion. His opinions were passages of Scripture. Leaders and ministers must be careful not to act like “gurus” and pontificate on sensitive topics. Just the Word, please.
2. He stayed with his wife.
- No one has ever gone to greater lengths to avoid moral failure. He required that his hotel room be searched before he retired. He also posted an associate in the room across the hall just to make himself accountable.
- In our culture where politicians, sports figures, producers, and even pastors have fallen prey to immorality, not once was he accused of living fast and loose. God honors purity.
3. He handled money ethically.
- The Billy Graham Association handled over 100 million dollars annually and never once had a financial malfeasance allegation. He made himself totally accountable to a Board of Directors and lived modestly. God honors accountability.
4. He told the truth.
- Dr. Graham instituted a rigid reporting mechanism from his “Modesto Manifesto.” He differed from the exaggerated claims of prior evangelists. He reported to the person how many attended each evening and how many responded to the invitation. God honors accuracy.
5. He promoted other ministries.
- When many other ministries exalted themselves with “egos and logos,” his organization involved a large cross-section of Christendom. He never spent time berating other ministers from the pulpit, choosing instead to lift up Christ. God honors humility.
6. He stayed on mission.
- His mission was like Jesus: souls. Samaritan’s Purse, an organization he founded, channels over 600 million dollars a year to the needy. His focus, however, remained on the lost.
- Check out one great example. His first great movie, The Restless Ones, won “Today” celebrity Kathie Gifford to Christ. Listen to her amazing “Today” show testimony from last week HERE.” God honors soul-winners.
To sum it up, his life was “blameless.” No one is perfect. All of us are forgiven! As a leader, however, he was “above reproach” as Paul required of every elder.
No wonder he influenced every President from Truman to Trump. No wonder he personally spoke to over 200 million people, the largest number of any Christian leader in history.
99 years is a long time. It’s endless temptations, decisions, options, and distractions. It’s “prime time” and obscurity. It’s living for Christ day in and day out for over 35,000 days.
God bless him. He sure blessed me.