“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” | Proverbs 4:23
I woke up Wednesday morning and, just like many others, was shocked with the news of the passing of Billy Graham. It was a tragic celebration. As believers in Christ, we know Billy Graham is celebrating with his late wife and, more importantly, Jesus Christ in Heaven.
My social media news feed was flooded with the many people that had been impacted with the life and ministry of Billy Graham. When I, like many other pastors and preachers, answered the call to ministry, I had many people tell me, “You never know, you may become the next Billy Graham.” This is a desire that some of us have, to be like Billy Graham. He had an amazing platform, known across the world as the greatest evangelist, preached the Gospel to thousands upon thousands.
However, the world does not need another Billy Graham.
As pastors and preachers, God did not call us to be like Billy Graham. God called us, through our own personalities and characteristics, to be like Christ. We will preach differently. We will shepherd differently. We are each individually unique. Even though Billy Graham was one of the best, we are not called to be the next Billy Graham. We wouldn’t be able to do that. Billy Graham was Billy Graham and the best one that ever lived. God, however, has called us as pastors and preachers to be who we are through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
I, who once wanted to be the next Billy Graham, know that I will not, and cannot, fulfill that role. As of right now, God has not placed me in large stadiums, next to Presidents, talking to Hollywood actors and actresses. No, He has graciously placed me in a small Southern Baptist Church in a small rural town. God has blessed me with a great Church to shepherd. And even though I do not have the platform Billy had, I pray I have the zeal and the faithfulness he had to the Gospel.
Billy Graham preached to thousands upon thousands. Some of us only preach to 100 or less a week. Success in ministry is not found in the amount of people we get to preach to, but in being faithful to the ministry God has placed us in. Be faithful where God has placed you. Don’t look to the future of where God may place you next, or where you feel God is sending you. Where does He have you, today? Are you in a small church or a large church? Are you a small group leader or a youth pastor? Be faithful where you are. God has you there for a purpose.
We are not held to the amount of people we lead to Christ. God does not hold us accountable to the amount of people who respond to the gospel we preach. No. Billy Graham once said, “My job is to proclaim the message. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to do the work, period.” So, not only are we to be faithful where we are, we must also be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ that we preach. One thing I loved about Billy Graham is his persistence, his commitment, and his obedience to the gospel. Whether you are preaching to one or thousands, preach the gospel.
I am thankful for Billy Graham. Heaven gained what the world lost; a great man and a soldier of the gospel. I pray as pastors and preachers, even though we aren’t called to be the next Billy Graham, we seek to learn from him and the legacy he left, because, what this world needs, is not another Billy Graham, but pastors and preachers who will pick up the mantle and continue to preach the gospel that has been entrusted to us.
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I love to read. As a pastor, I find my time reading more non-fiction, but I love to escape into a good piece of fiction at times. In fact, for every 2-3 works of non-fiction I read, I squeeze in a work of fiction.
At times, my friends ask me, “How do you read so much?” Hopefully, this will help you as you seek to read more books.
1. Schedule a time to read.
Make sure you schedule a time in the week in which you are going to read. First, schedule the days you will read. Monday through Friday? Monday’s, Wednesday’s, and Friday’s? All 7 days? Schedule it. Second, schedule how long you want to read each day. I try to squeeze in one hour a day to read. You may find that to be difficult. Try 20 minutes a day, then work your way up! Thirdly, schedule when you will read within that day! Will it be when you wake up? During lunch? During break? Before bed? Set aside the time, and do it!
2. Be intentional about what you read.
Time is valuable and there’s nothing I hate more than wasting my time on a book that isn’t worth reading! Be intentional about what you read. As a pastor, I pick between Pastoral leadership, theology, religious biography, and specific fiction when reading. I am not just picking up a random book. If it’s something I need to learn or focus on, I pick it up. If it doesn’t capture me within the first 2 chapters, I set it down. Be intentional! I tend to read books that are recommended by authors and pastors I respect.
3. Set a goal.
A couple years back, my goal was to read one book a week! I barely made it. I failed at scheduling a daily time to read. Make your goal reasonable at first! Maybe it’s to read 10 books in a year, or 1 book a month. Set a goal that is reasonable to reach at first, then after that goal is reached, set a new one.
4. Read without distractions.
Find a time to read where you can set your phone aside, where you have no responsibilities, and where you won’t be distracted. I tend to read in the mornings while my family is still asleep, but if I can’t in the mornings due to meetings or visits, I’ll make time in the afternoons to read.
Don’t get discouraged if you miss a day. Keep reading, keep going, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day! It’s possible to read more. Good luck!