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Christianity Today online is featuring an interview with Billy Graham. This is really quite exceptional, since he doesn’t do many interviews anymore. The first part of the interview has to do with aging. I encourage you to read it, no matter how old you might be.
The close of the interview asks two questions that are exactly those I’d love to have asked Dr. Graham myself. Here they are, along with portions of his answers:
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?
I believe every pastor should read these answers and take them to heart.
A note about the photo: Yes, this is a picture of Billy Graham and me. It was taken last May, when I was at a gathering of pastors and business leaders at the Cove, Dr. Graham’s retreat center in North Carolina. I was there representing Howard Butt, Jr., the founder of Laity Lodge, and a long-time friend and colleague of Dr. Graham. It was indeed a special moment for me to be able to thank Dr. Graham for leading me to Christ forty-seven years earlier in the Los Angeles Coliseum.