How will he be remembered?
When Billy Graham passed away recently at 99, I was interested in hearing how he would be remembered. After all, he hasn’t been in the spotlight for about a decade and we have short memories in this digital age. Add to that that he might have been at the peak of his influence in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Many today weren’t alive during that times so they never really knew of him. Many others might not care after the scandals surrounding TV preachers in the 80s.
So how powerful of legacy does Billy Graham leave?
He wasn’t just a preacher, he was a world evangelist.
He didn’t just preach to thousands, he preached to 215 million around the world over the course of his lifetime.
He didn’t just consult with leaders, he was the confidant of every U.S. president from Truman to Obama.
Doing great things with great people likely leaves a powerful legacy.
But there is so Much More.
He not only avoided scandal but set the benchmark for financial integrity.
He not only not only was faithful to his wife, he took extra steps to ensure there was no hint of impropriety.
Although he grew an organization that became the largest of its kind in the world, he lived most of his adult life in the same modest, mountain home.
His legacy is powerful because he was authentic, not simply a public performance.
But he wasn’t Perfect
He made a mistake in supporting Richard Nixon, believing he was a man of conviction and faith. He was embarrassed when the White House tapes were released.
As a young evangelist, he posed for a photo on the White House lawn after his initial meeting with President Truman. Many saw this as grandstanding.
He appeared naive when visiting Russia and not seeing any violations of freedom of religion.
But his legacy will show that he was human, making mistakes and owning up to them.
He had Help
He didn’t do it all alone. He built a great team. Maybe that is why George Beverly Shay is buried near him.
He also understood that media mogul William Randolph Hearst pumped his L.A. Crusade in the newspapers, giving him the break he needed.
Great Legacies always involve the influence of others. We never do it completely on our own.
What Gift does he Leave?
He leaves a simple message focused on unconditional love and forgiveness. He cut through the clutter of organized religion to uncover its essence. What a gift.
He leaves a focus to be a messenger, introducing others to a life of peace. That was his role. Nothing more. He simply introduced others to the answer he found. He didn’t brag or place himself above others but insisted he was only doing what he was called to do. Nothing more.
He leaves a gift to the world, changed lives. Millions responded to that message, walking away better than they walked in. Can we ask more of a legacy than helping people lead better lives?
The gift he leaves is a connection to someone or something greater than himself that helps us think bigger and reach higher.
Appreciation for his Gift
Is there any wonder that he will lie in state in the nation’s capital?
Is there any wonder some consider him one of the greatest individuals to have ever lived?
A legacy is a gift given to subsequent generations. As future generations look back and think of Billy Graham, they will have an opportunity to think bigger and reach higher because that is what he did more than any other preacher of his day.
As leaders, we can study his legacy as a benchmark. He was diligent in his role, maximizing actions today while focusing on the end vision. He didn’t faint from controversy but stayed true to his core values and avoided scandal. Maybe most of all, he lived a life of integrity. In the end, he was also extremely successful.
Isn’t that a legacy we would like for ourselves?
THINK BIGGER – REACH HIGHER!
Loren Murfield, Ph.D.
I work with clients to think bigger and reach higher. Frequently, clients tell me, “Wow, I hadn’t thought about it like that before.” I love seeing them raise their standards, step up their performance, and do what they previously considered “impossible.” At that point, I help them write their legacy book. Contact me today to begin creating your legacy and then leaving it for generations to come.
(c) 2018. Loren Murfield.
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