Justin Taylor reports that Billy Graham formed a personal friendship with Bob Jones Sr during his early ministry years that included an invitation for “Dr. Bob” to speak into his ministerial life through criticism and guidance.
When Bob Jones acted on the relational offer and spoke a cautionary word of wisdom into Billy Graham‘s life and ministry, the counsel of the seasoned veteran went completely unheeded.
A mistake Billy Graham now looks upon with regret.
This illustrates the truism that a wise man learns from experience, but a wiser man learns from the experience and mistakes of others.
” The following excerpts are from a letter to Billy that contains some helpful advice (May 22, 1952):
I would advise you to take a few campaigns in small towns and pull your budget way down. It will do your soul good to get away from the cities and into small communities where Americans live and where there is not so much glamour. . . .
Make it clear that you are not in the business to get church members, but to get church members converted.
Then Jones raised the issue of politics, a source of perennial fascination and power and temptation:
Now, politics has been my weakness. It is going to be a weakness with you. Watch about your association with politicians. If you are not careful, you will be used sometime when you are not conscious of being used. . . .
Recently—nearly 60 years after receiving this letter from Bob Jones Sr.—Billy Graham was asked about his regrets and what he would have done differently. In addition to spending more time with his family, he mentioned his association with politicians:
I also would have steered clear of politics.
I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to.
But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.