by Lauren Crane
Taking his cues for ministry from Paul’s first letter to Timothy, as well as from his grandfather’s “Modesto Manifesto,” Will Graham taught Southeastern students ways to safeguard their ministry for the glory of God.
Graham, of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, is the grandson of famed evangelist. A Southeastern alumnus, Graham spoke to the gathered students during chapel on October 1 about the lessons he learned from his grandfather – principles taken from 1 Timothy 4:6-16.
Looking primarily at verse 12, Graham said there is much to be learned about how to live close to the Lord and have a clean ministry, for the glory of God. The principles Paul imparted to Timothy were ones Billy Graham built his ministry around, having written a statement of values he called the Modesto Manifesto.
“Right before they went to Modesto, Calif. for the Los Angeles Crusades, my granddaddy’s heart was heavy because ministers and pastors were falling by the wayside because of corruption,” Graham said. He said his grandfather and his staff listed out the pitfalls they desired to avoid in their ministry, “and they all came down to those found in 1 Timothy 4:12. I want to impart some things he taught me and determined in 1949 – what they called the Modesto Manifesto.”
Graham first said believers, and especially ministers, should be careful to be truthful in speech and comments. “Don’t fall into speculation of misrepresentation of information,” Graham said. “Stop scratching itchy ears. Preach the word. Proclaim it. Truth is God - it’s his character. Any misrepresentation of the truth is misrepresentation of Jesus Christ.”
Graham also said he had made it a goal to live like he belongs to Christ. “Stop living like functional atheists, living your lives as if you don’t know Jesus. If there was ever a time when the church needed to be accurate in their conduct, it’s now. Be above reproach.”
Furthermore, Graham said believers need to be setting an example in love. “We are commanded to love one another, and this is how people will know we belong to God.” Instead of following the command to love, Graham said many believers have watered the concept down to how well they tolerate one another. “This lack of love is detrimental to the body of Christ.”
In addition to setting an example in love, Graham said his grandfather followed Paul’s admonition to set an example in faith and purity.
“Many people in ministry lead by sight, not by faith. When God tells you to do something, do it,” he said. One thing God has commanded is purity, and Graham said this applies to purity in morals, sexuality, thoughts, actions and more. “Never give Satan even more of a foothold – he’s got too much of a foothold now.” Graham said his grandfather implemented certain standards so as to be above reproach in purity, including never being alone with a woman other than his wife in any situation. “These are things I am trying to put into practice in my own ministry.”
“We only have one life, then we have eternity to rest. Guard your ministry.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.