Reflections on the life of Rev. Dr. Billy Graham
By Bishop Frank J. Beard
Rev. Billy Graham is one of the greatest evangelist the world has ever known. His commitment to Christ and his passion for reaching lost souls resulted in over 3.2 million people coming to faith in the Lord. During his ministry he preached to more than 4 billion people.
Here are five things that I wish every pastor and every church leader would learn from Dr. Graham’s ministry:
1. Take the mission seriously.
Rev. Graham believed that everyone should have a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. He never strayed from his mission. He stood before Kings, Queens, Presidents, World Rulers, and common everyday folks and faithfully shared the same simple Gospel message of Jesus’ love.
2. Change emphasis without changing focus.
Rev. Billy Graham learned how to do ministry in context. The need to adapt did not cause him to lose or water down his focus. He could “keep the main thing the main thing” while discovering new ways to reach a constantly changing context. His ministry reached children, youth, young adults, couples, singles, and spanned every age and racial demographic. He broke barriers and built bridges by calling folks to come to the foot of the Cross.
3. Fiscal responsibility and Accountability.
Rev. Graham’s ministry was conducted with the highest principles of Christian stewardship. He lived a lifestyle that was free from frills, open for inspection, and conducted with transparency. His personal generosity and unselfish way of life served as a model for others. In an age of “superstar” preachers, Rev. Graham remained humbly rooted and grounded in his personal practices. His simplistic lifestyle speaks volumes during this age of ministry entitlement.
4. Live a life of consistent integrity.
I have heard it said that, “character is who you are when no one is looking.” Rev. Billy Graham stands out as a man of impeccable character and unquestionable integrity. He is often referred to as the Nation’s pastor. He served as a spiritual advisor to every U.S. president from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama. His wisdom and his spiritual counsel was highly respected.
5. Have a global scope and a commitment to diversity.
Rev. Graham preached in more than 185 countries around the world. He preached to people without giving preference to their ethnicity. He preached to win souls for the Kingdom of God. His crusades, both in and outside of the United States, were a model of inclusiveness. He brought people together in a non-threatening arena. He challenged people to accept the gift of salvation and to become a part of the Christian family. A family that is open and diverse.
Rev. Dr. Billy Graham was a living model of faithfulness. He kept faith with his wife, Ruth, for 64 years. He was faithful to his family, his ministry partners, and to the call to preach the gospel.
Dr. Graham received many awards, honorary degrees, and citations during his long life of 99 years. While being questioned about his many accomplishments he stated that the only reward to which he was looking forward was to hear Jesus say to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Brother Billy has reached the end of his earthly journey and he has lived, much like the Prophet Samuel, a life above suspicion and accusation. I am confident that Jesus, while welcoming him through the pearly gates, said the words that echoed throughout the corridors of heaven, followed by thousands upon thousands joining in agreement to the pronouncement from the throne, “Well done, good and faithful servant, well done