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A great leadership lesson from the life and ministry of Billy Graham

I believe that all lasting ministry needs to flow out of our walk with Jesus.

It’s easy, too easy, to allow ministry to replace Jesus at the center/core of what you are all about, which is the first mistake I address in my book “Mistakes Leaders Make.”

Here are some thoughts from one of my times with the Lord.

1Timothy 1:5 & 19 (NLT)

"The purpose of my instruction is that all the Christians there would be filled with love that comes from: 

  • A pure heart
  • A clear conscience
  • And sincere faith" (v. 5)

"Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear." (v. 19a)

"So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man." Acts 24:16 (ESV)

1 Timothy 1:5 is one of my go-to verses as to foundational truths for my life. Developing a pure heart with right motives; keeping a clear conscience by owning my sin, repentance and confession as soon as something has been brought to my attention; cultivating a sincere, genuine faith-walk with you. 

Sincere faith (2 Corinthians 1:12): Simplicity and sincerity. Simplicity in the way I live and sincerity in the way I lead. Simplicity has to do with singleness, focus, undistracted, undiluted.

Early in my Christian walk, I was very privileged to sit under the teaching of Lorne Sanny (President of The Navigators for 30 years) being trained to be a counselor for a Billy Graham crusade.

During one of the sessions Lorne said, “Billy Graham, more than any leader I know, consistently practices Acts 24:16.” Everyone in the audience (you could hear the Bible pages rustling) turned to see what Acts 24:16 said. Billy was quick to own his sin, to make things right in his relationships with God and people. We often refer to this as “keeping short accounts”--not letting time pass without confessing, repenting and having the difficult conversations.

I recently read The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham and it had a lot to say by way of explaining his incredible ministry. One of his secrets is certainly practicing Acts 24:16.

When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.” Psalm 119:59, 60 (ESV)

Question: How are you doing on this?  Do you point the finger and play the blame game, or do you own your mistakes and your sin by taking pains to keep a clear conscience before God and man?


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