One myth I had entering ministry was that every church, Christian and clergy would cheer you on. I found out early on that was not the case. Encouragers need encouragement and the Bible notes, “David encouraged himself in the Lord” (I Samuel 30:6). I have found that most evangelists are encouraging to others perhaps because of the lack of encouragement they themselves may receive. A kind word goes a long way especially to those alone on the road. More than ever I intentionally try to be wind in others’ proverbial sails and encourage them in their ministry.
Satan and his minions are already attacking and evangelists don’t need fellow servants to assist. We all daydream of ministering to the masses but we do well to minister to ministers. People matter more than platform and it’s tempting to get it backwards. May we give God the glory and die to pride so we can live more effectively for the Prince of Peace.
I was preaching at a Pastors Conference and giving the keynote at Emmanuel Theological Seminary in Kota, India in February 2018 when I got word that my childhood hero and boss as an adult, Dr. Billy Graham, went to heaven. I was able to fly home just in time to pay my respects at the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
Folks have asked me periodically what my all-time favorite picture of Dr. Billy Graham is after nearly seven decades of ministry. At times, it was him with the MIGHTY. I was inspired early on by his relationships with royalty and celebrity. He pastored 12 United States Presidents and that will never be duplicated.
In other seasons, I loved seeing God’s man speaking to the MASSES. His largest crowd was 1.1 million in South Korea. People were as far as the eye could see! It was surreal to see stadium shots of him in America and abroad speaking to capacity crowds.
However, my all-time favorite photo is one most have not seen, but it marked me in ministry. It is not sharing with millions, but with one MAN. Dr. Graham could have rested in the hotel before speaking that night at a football stadium but at the leading of the Holy Spirit, he went to a diner for lunch unannounced and was found sharing the Gospel to an individual.
As an evangelist, may we never forget the power of one. We can get so ‘professional’ that we lose the personal touch. May we not neglect individuals en route to preaching to the crowds. Keep in mind if we live for crowds, we are dead to Christ. Jesus fed five thousand one day (John 6) and conversed with a woman at a well on another day (John 4). Crowds can be fickle but Christ calls us to be faithful. Our success is not in the size of an audience or response at the altar but our availability to die to the flesh and be obedient. We are just a mailman delivering His mail. Nothing more, nothing less.
It has been aptly said that the majority of criticism is rooted in jealousy. If two people are in a canoe it is always the one rowing the least who is criticizing most! The word “critic” is a theatrical term that stems from failed actors who wanted to star on the big stage on Broadway or on the silver screen in Hollywood, auditioned and got cut. Today as “critics” they make a healthy living mocking those who made it.
The last five letters of jealousy spell LOUSY. We are never like Jesus when jealous. Be inspired by others but never intimidated by them. Winners build up but wannabes tear down. See others as colleagues not competition (Philippians 2:3-4). Dr. Billy Graham believed you cannot promote one ministry by tearing down another minister. Our assignment is to exalt Christ and preach the Gospel while edifying others. The evangelist can be both Evangelistic and encouraging. We preach Good News!
My college buddy and fellow evangelist Clayton King said more than once, “If you don’t ever feel like quitting the ministry on occasion than you are doing it wrong.” At times the only thing that keeps me in the game is the call of God on my life. Some have a career but we as evangelists have a calling! The Lord calls us to finish the race, not quit prematurely.
Years ago I preached on a cruise in Jamaica with legendary worship leader Andrae Crouch and he penned the lyrics, “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King!” What a day that will be when we see our Savior. Let’s not allow secondary things to sidetrack us from the primary mission. Ministry is much more than crowds, credit and criticism. It is all about Christ! Be encouraged because God in this very moment is praying for and proud of you! Keep giving God all you’ve got. Encourage others today and be a blessing not a burden.
Souls are at stake and he that wins souls is wiseProverbs 11:30
Want to Learn More?
Connect with us to help spread the gospel around the world.