Adam Bryant has interviewed 525 chief executives for his “Corner Office” column in the New York Times. In his final article, he identifies the most important characteristic of effective leadership: trustworthiness. He quotes a CEO who notes, “If you want to lead others, you’ve got to have their trust, and you can’t have their trust without integrity.”
This observation is on my mind today as I reflect on my weekend spent at The Cove, Billy Graham’s conference and retreat center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. If you were to cite one characteristic that defines the famed evangelist, I would guess that “integrity” would be at the top. And you’d be right.
What explains his godly character? His amazing global ministry? His enduring legacy?
Reflecting on a remarkable legacy
The Cove is one of the most beautiful and worshipful places I’ve ever visited. It is just one facet of Dr. Graham’s continuing ministry.
The famed evangelist will turn ninety-nine years old next week; his beloved wife went to her eternal home ten years ago. Their ministry has led more people to Christ than any other in history. God’s work in my soul this past weekend is just one more example of the Lord’s work through their faithfulness.
Billy Graham’s story proves that we can rarely see the end from the beginning. When Dr. Graham preached his first sermon eighty years ago, it went so poorly that a man in the church told him, “Boy, you better go back to school and get a lot more education because you’re not gonna make it.”
But God had a plan for this son of a North Carolina dairy farmer. Neither Billy nor Ruth Graham ever sought worldly wealth or status. Their sole desire was to be faithful to their Kingdom calling. And God has done far more with them than they could have done for him.
Paradoxically, the key to their global acclaim has been their personal humility. The key to their power has been their powerlessness.
I have observed the same pattern in numerous places around the world. In Cuba, Brazil, Bangladesh, China, and other nations, I have witnessed remarkable conversions, healings, and cultural impact from churches with very few material resources. I can point to only one common denominator: a passionate hunger for the power of God.
In my travels, I have seen impoverished churches pray all day and night for God to move in their cities. I have seen pastors weep for the lost in their community and beg God to bring them to salvation. I have seen desperate Christians pray fervently for the sick in their churches to be healed.
The God who answers their prayers is waiting to answer ours.
Who is building your house?
Many Christians in America want God to bring spiritual awakening to our nation. But will we pay the price to see his power?
Will we pray in utter humility and dependence? Will we serve in absolute submission to his word and Spirit? Will we live with a passionate desire to seek his glory and not our own?
Scripture is clear:
• “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Who is building your house?
• “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). Have you submitted your life to the Spirit yet today?
• Jesus stated: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Are you bearing spiritual fruit?
• Paul could testify, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Can you say the same?
• The apostle worked “with all [God’s] energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29). Whose energy is at work within you today?
I’ve been reading Mark Batterson’s terrific book, Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God. Mark makes this observation: Right now, you have no sensation of motion. You’re sitting still as you read this article.
But the reality is that you’re sitting on a planet that is spinning around its axis at approximately a thousand miles an hour. You are also hurtling through space at approximately sixty-seven thousand miles an hour. Before your Monday is done, you will have traveled 1.3 million miles in your annual trek around the sun.
All the power of the God who made all of that is available to those who trust him fully and obey him courageously. Will you be that person today?