By Aaron Earls
We should not attempt to blindly copy Billy Graham or his methodology, but we can definitely learn from the principles that guided him and his heart that was shaped by His love for Christ and the lost.
Perhaps even more significantly, we can learn from what Graham said he regretted the most.
We don’t often associate regrets with Billy Graham and his ministry, but prior to his death he shared those things that brought him the most regret.
Here, in his own words, are the three biggest regrets of Billy Graham’s life and ministry.
Although I have much to be grateful for as I look back over my life, I also have many regrets. I have failed many times, and I would do many things differently. For one thing, I would speak less and study more, and I would spend more time with my family.
When I look back over the schedule I kept thirty or forty years ago, I am staggered by all the things we did and the engagements we kept. Sometimes we flitted from one part of the country to another, even from one continent to another, in the course of only a few days. Were all those engagements necessary? Was I as discerning as I might have been about which ones to take and which to turn down? I doubt it. Every day I was absent from my family is gone forever. Although much of that travel was necessary, some of it was not.
I would also spend more time in spiritual nurture, seeking to grow closer to God so I could become more like Christ. I would spend more time in prayer, not just for myself but for others. I would spend more time studying the Bible and meditating on its truth, not only for sermon preparation but to apply its message to my life. It is far too easy for someone in my position to read the Bible only with an eye on a future sermon, overlooking the message God has for me through its pages.
And I would give more attention to fellowship with other Christians, who could teach me and encourage me (and even rebuke me when necessary).
About one thing I have absolutely no regrets, however, and that is my commitment many years ago to accept God’s calling to serve Him as an evangelist of the Gospel of Christ.
How great a challenge is this for all Christians, regardless of where and how we minister?
Billy Graham, the man who was called the “pastor to America,” said if he could do it all over again, he would spend more time:
- In God’s word
- With other believers in community
- With his family
For many Christians, those are the areas we sacrifice the quickest, no matter where God has called us to serve Him. These are temptations common to us all.
We short change our devotional life because we spend our time on entertainment. We remove ourselves from the local church community because we have other things to do. We miss out on time with our family because we are pursuing career advancement.
Those were Billy Graham’s regrets, but they don’t have to be ours. We can all learn from the many things he did right, but we can also learn from his admitted regrets.
Value Bible study. Invest in the lives of other Christians. Nurture your family.
Aaron is a writer for LifewayResearch.com.