“CT: Do you have any regrets as you look back on your life?
Graham: I regret that I didn’t spend more time with my family; I’m sure Ruth and the children paid a heavy price for all the times I was absent. I always tell younger evangelists not to feel like they have to accept every invitation they get, or be absent from home so much. We can do so much today through modern communications.”
I don’t share this to heap shame on Billy Graham–far from it. I believe the evangelist to be an eminently honorable man who worked tirelessly for the same kingdom I serve, and who did far more than I will likely ever do to advance that kingdom. No, I didn’t read Graham’s words with spite or malice. I found myself profoundly thankful that a major Christian leader confessed his faults in a public way. It is a commonplace that evangelical leaders (as with all leaders) often spend too much time away from their families in service to their vocational call. Yet very few would speak as humbly as Rev. Graham and admit their failing.
Along with tons of other young would-be pastors and teachers (and Christians of all callings), I am aware of a similar bent in my own heart. Reading Graham’s words calls me and my peers once more to learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before. At an early age, we must ask ourselves, “How can I serve the Lord without neglecting my family?” Or better yet, “How can I glorify God by putting my family first and then glorify God in my calling?” We must answer these questions; we must pause for reflection on them in the midst of our busy, ambitious lives; we must invite close friends and fellow church members to help us think these things through.
These are tough questions to answer, and many of us will make many mistakes in seeking to do so. One hopes, though, that we will find a Spirit-inspired balance of torrential labor for our Lord and excellent, involved shepherding of the precious families the Lord has given to love and to love us. May Rev. Graham’s words help us to learn from his example and honestly say at the end of our lives that we cared very well for our families in the midst of very busy lives.