About a year ago, I was listening to a radio program on which Marshall Shelley was being interviewed about his new book, The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham (Zondervan, 2005). They were giving away a few copies of the book to those who called in, and something inside me felt compelled to call. But I didn’t have a good question to ask, so I prayed to the Lord and said, “If you want me to have a copy of this book, please give me a good question to ask and I’ll call.”
I’m not sure if the Lord gave me this question or if it just popped into my head, but one way or the other, I thought to ask about the connection in Billy’s life between his private pursuit of holiness and integrity, and his public effectiveness and longevity. So, I made the call and was given the last copy of the book they had to give.
A couple of years earlier, I had breakfast with some friends and the subject of Billy Graham’s life and ministry came up. We talked mostly about his commitment to integrity in the areas of sexuality and finances. It so happened that one of the men in the conversation had coordinated all of the travel for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for some years, and he explained in great detail the measures they took to protect the integrity of the ministry. In other words, he explained just how much they valued holiness.
Somehow, in the midst of the conversation, the name of another pastor came up. This pastor had taken a small church and grown it to many thousands in the course of just a few years. He had become very well known locally and across the country through a fast-growing radio program. But one day hard evidence surfaced that he was involved in illicit sexual relationships and that he was mismanaging the ministry’s money to benefit himself. His lack of holiness not only split the church, it severely harmed the whole Body of Christ in that area, and it pained believers across the country who had come to love and respect and promote his teaching.
When we were done with breakfast, I got into my car and began to drive away. And it was as if the Lord grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me right in the eyes, and said with a serious tone in His voice, “Charlie, holiness really matters. The valuing of it impacts lives for the better, the feigning of it impacts lives for the worse. Pursue holiness!”
Without a doubt, the thing I’ve respected most about Billy Graham over the years is his undying commitment to holiness. So, I was eager to receive and read the book, and though it took some time to work through it, I’m very glad I did, and I’m glad to recommend it to you.
I have a lot to say about it, so I’m going to post my comments in several entries, probably interrupted by entries on other matters. My hope in posting these several entries is that you’ll be inspired to pick up a copy for yourself and read it.