Solid Advice for Young Leaders from Dr. Billy Graham

My friend coach Craig Candeto is a former Navy standout quarterback. He’s still a young man, but he’s already started an impressive career as a coach. Currently he’s coaching quarterbacks for the Citadel. In addition to being a great football player and coach, Craig is a solid believer. He lives his faith boldly in all he does.

Recently, Cheryl and I were visiting with Craig and his wife Maribeth, and Craig told me a story of meeting Billy Graham recently. Craig was invited as part of FCA with a few other coaches to go to Dr. Graham’s house in the mountains and visit with the famous evangelist.

He said Dr. Graham was frail, obviously weakened from how most of us think of Billy Graham, but he was gracious, gentle, and still very alert.

One of the coaches asked Dr. Graham a question.

What word of advice would you have for guys like us, just beginning our careers and still young in our faith?

The young coaches expected something profound from the famed pastor, but Dr. Graham frailly and simply answered:

Read your Bible and pray everyday.

Did you catch that? Was it too fast for you? Should I write it again?

Read your Bible and pray everyday.

Wow! Deep!

Billy Graham, after years of influencing others with the Gospel, encouraged these men with what was most important in developing themselves longterm as believers.

Spend time with God everyday!

Here’s my take on Billy Graham’s encouragement:

Don’t try to make it more complicated than it is. Sometimes simple is the most profound.

Read your Bible and pray everyday.

You got it? Any questions?

Arizona Pastor Arrested for Home Bible Study

I’ve updated this post, thought about taking it down, but I still want more information. I think there may be more for this story.

Fox News reposted that a pastor doing a home Bible study in Phoenix was arrested recently. The report says he was “essentially arrested because the bible study was at a private house .. and that essentially, it’s a church. Since they weren’t zoned for church, they were told they were breaking the rules.”

You can read the full Fox News report HERE.

What do you think?

  • Is there more to this story?
  • Is this a sign of things to come?
  • Is this an isolated incident?
  • What should be our response?

Hopefully you know this is a church leadership blog more than anything. I don’t use this to share political thoughts. This story, however, has my attention.

What do you think?

Update: Read the comments here and on my Facebook (Facebook.com/ ronaldedmondson). There may be more to this story.

7 Ways I Want to Improve as a Pastor

This week I start a new journey. You can read about it HERE.

I’m in a good place in life for this change. I’m old enough to have learned a few things, but also old enough to know I have so much I need to learn. As I do with the start of a new year, only on a larger scale, I view transitions as an opportunity to make significant improvements in how I lead. I get a fresh start. There are a few things I want to do differently.

Here are 7 areas I want to improve in my new ministry position:

Celebrate more – I believe in celebrating. I would advise other leaders to do so. Occasionally, I take my own advice. Sometimes, however, I get distracted by the next opportunity and fail to adequately celebrate along the way. I want to do better.

Pray more fervently – I believe in prayer. I want to be a person of prayer. I surround myself with prayer warriors. (I wrote about that HERE.) This time, I want to discipline myself to pray even more and see my ministry defined my prayers and the prayers of the church I’ve been asked to lead.

Stress less – Some would say I don’t stress at all. I tend to be fairly even-tempered. But, that false appearance is only because I’m good at hiding my impatience at times. (Cheryl sees it unfortunately.) This time, I want to trust more and stress less. After all, God is in charge; not me.

Be more disciplined – Again, people would think I’m fairly disciplined, and in many ways I am. I’m not sure, however, if I’m always disciplined in the right areas. Maybe I should have titled this one “prioritize better”. Either way, I want my life defined more by where I want to end up someday. The best way to do that is to live that way now.

Take bigger risks – That seems strange coming from a church planter, former small business owner, entrepreneur and in light of the risk some believe I’m taking now. Looking back, however, over business ventures, and the last two plants, which were both phenomenally successful, there were a few things I wish I’d done differently. I wish I’d acted sooner when I sensed God leading. I wished I would have waited longer, when I didn’t necessarily sense God leading. It would have required acting contrary to popular opinion more than I did, but, as I’ll continue to believe and teach, God’s way isn’t always easiest, but it’s always best.

Satisfy fewer – I’m actually pretty good at this. It’s one of the signatures of my ministry and people continually say it’s what attracts them to my leadership. I am who I am. I don’t usually try to pretend otherwise. People typically say I’m “real”. It’s not that I don’t want to be liked. I feel the pressure to please everyone that all pastors feel. Ultimately, I want to honor Christ and keep the respect of my family. Beyond that, it’s okay if I’m not popular, as long as I’m being obedient. When I try to “satisfy” people, I only make less of the will of God and more of the will of man. That seems counterproductive to my calling.

Rest better – Perhaps my biggest weakness is that I’m always doing something. I do protect my Sabbath, but I don’t always take time during the week or for periodic seasons to simply rest. I’m a doer. I want to be productive. I’m usually busy from early morning until late at night. I will probably never rest by doing nothing. The sound of that drives me crazy, but I do want to take more time to do what I want to do to rest. Read a book. Take a long walk. Maybe even play a round of golf. (Oh no, let’s not get crazy. :) )

I realize I could have changed all of these without changing churches, but I’m simply being obedient today…and it affords me a unique opportunity. I can change some things about who I am and how I lead.

Let’s do it!

If you could do things differently in your ministry, what is one thing you would improve upon?

Perhaps you can do that now…with or without a change of position.

Coveting the Wrong Mansion

I was running recently in Asheville, NC. Have you ever been there? What a beautiful city! The area where I was running is full of big houses. Mansions galore. Not Biltmore big, but bigger than my house big. Lots bigger. I was running part of the time with my mouth open. I couldn’t believe the enormity.

I kept thinking:

Wow! Who lives in those houses? What would it be like to have a house like that? How cool is that house?

Then the thought occurred to me…

It felt convicting at first, then comforting.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)

(I love having Scripture hidden in my heart!)

I was instantly reminded that I have treasure in God that no one could afford. No one in Asheville or anywhere in the world. Bill Gates, or the new richest man in the world (I hear Bill’s not the richest anymore) couldn’t afford the treasure I’ve been afforded by my God.

Next time you run (or walk or drive) past a mansion, remember where your real treasure is.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the things of this world…be overwhelmed by the glories of His world. My richness is in Christ. How rich am I?

Are you ever like me? Do your thoughts ever get side-tracked?

Perhaps you are coveting the wrong mansion.

Often we focus on the wrong treasure. The cheaper treasure. The one that won’t last.

When is the last time God redirected your thoughts towards Him?

The Pressure of Easter Preaching

Pastor do you feel a pressure on Easter unlike other Sundays?

It seems there is an internal pressure to:

  • Find an obscure verse.
  • Address the story from a new angle
  • Reveal new insight in applying the story
  • Develop a character like no one else has
  • Tell the story in a fresh way

I feel the pressure. Am I alone?

What if we simply preach that Christ was crucified, buried and rose again?

What if we let the Gospel be the Gospel? What if we let truth prevail and the Holy Spirit be the teacher?

What if we drop the pressure and share the truth that God still loves sinners, that the Cross is still enough and that He is calling people to repentance and restoration?

What if we share the glory of the resurrection, not in a way that brings attention to our creativity in preparing a message, but in His humility and grace on the cross?

What if we decrease so the light of the world might increase?

That’s my aim this Easter. Who’s with me?

Five Minute Challenge: Persecuted Church

This week I’m at Moody Founder’s Week. It’s a Bible conference put on by Moody Bible Institute that I’ve come to for several years, especially since my son Nate is a student here. One of the underlying themes this year has the persecution of Christians around the world. I’ve read recently that Christians are under more persecution today than any time in church history.

Then, my friend Tami Heim tweeted that she was praying for the Christians of Uzbekistan. I’ll be honest, I don’t know that I ever prayed for anyone in Uzbekistan. Then I followed the link she provided and realized it’s part of an initiative called the Five Minute Challenge. I signed up. You can too. In fact, I think you should.

HERE is a list of the 50 most-watched countries for church persecution.

Watch this video and then go HERE.

Do you ever pray for persecuted Christians?