Last week, I had the pleasure to attend the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina for two days with pastors and church leaders from all over the south east. It was my honor to meet Billy Graham's daughter, Gi Gi and have breakfast and lunch with her husband, Dr. Jim Wilson (son in law to the legendary evangelist).
At the end of our conference he drove me personally on top of the mountain overlooking God's gorgeous creation on the property of the cove and the view was breathtaking! As we made our way up the trail towards the top he said, "Frank have you ever heard the story of the rich man and the limo driver?" I cannot explain it but since childhood I have had a deep desire and buring passion to hear, learn and share stories. Christ is still the greatest story teller of all time and He always used the secular to make a spiritual point. The moment Dr. Wilson asked me if I knew a story immediately like Ross Perot I was "all ears." One because I love stories and secondly, when kin to Billy Graham speaks we all should stop and take note.
He shared a story I had never heard before and will gladly share with you. The true story was of a very wealthy businessman who was looking to hire full-time a chauffeur. They had the selection process narrowed to three final candidates and the multi-millionaire met them individually and gave them the road test. Their assignment was to see how close they could drive the limosuine to the edge of the cliff without falling over to certain death.
As Dr. Wilson was sharing this story, keep in mind that we were gingerly making our way up the mountain and I was riding in the passenger seat inches away! We just had lunch together and like Christ I was starting to think it could have been my last supper. But like the Lord I knew we were in Good Hands. He went on to share that the first applicant for the job got in the limo and was proud of himself that he was able to park the car less than a foot from the cliff. He got out and with a smug said to the second contestant, "Top that!" The next applicant not to be out done hopped in, threw it in drive, pressed the gas and would you believe that he placed that car no less than six inches away from the cliff. He jumped out and was beyond proud and strutted like a peacock and everyone wondered how the final contestant for the coveted job would out do that.
The final driver jumped in the lavish car, said a brief prayer, put on his seatbelt and eventually like everyone else took off. However, when it came time to hug the harrowing turns he did something peculiar and intentionally parked five feet away from danger. When he returned the first two contestants mocked him, teased him and borderline harrassed him but the millionaire with a smile said, "YOU ARE THE DRIVER FOR ME!" He hired the final driver and dismissed on the spot the first two. What was the difference?
As a Christian and especially for the clergy it is imperative that we don't compromise, cut corners, flirt with temptation and do better to stay at a distance from cliffs and catostrophe. My friend of ten years and fellow evangelist, Tony Nolan said powerfully in regards to sin, "If it is GREY STAY AWAY!" If you have to ask yourself is this wrong than it probably is. Most fall in private way before in public and we need to build in barriers to protect His Name and the platform He called us to.
Notice how the winning driver got in the car. He first said a prayer. Just because we can preach the paint off the walls or sing to the Throne of God doesn't mean we can omit prayer from our lives. Dr. Billy Graham said, "Satan would much rather have us preach and praise more than prayer." Read that again because that should convict us all. Secondly, he put on his seatbelt and we must put on the full armor of God daily. The moment we think we can hit cruise control in ministry is often the same street that spells disaster. Lastly, he didn't have to show boat or out do anyone else but honor the One who was riding with him. At first glance one may think the prized package was the millionaire eventually riding in the backseat of the limosuine but the true wealth is the Lord Jesus who is in our hearts and we must ask daily are we going to call the shots or let Him drive and dictate our daily route?
We are worth far more than a limo and as messengers of the Gospel may we continue to not only PROMOTE the WORD but PROTECT the WORK of God in every decision of our lives. God forgives but others don't quickly forget and it is better to play it safe on the road honoring God than compromise and cut corners leaving Christ in the corner. We need to establish protection, build in times of refreshing with plenty of sleep, reduce travel time alone, consult with accountability team and be in a constant season of Bible reading and prayer. Just like the first two candidates (others both in the world and ministry) may tease us, mock us and borderline harrass us but inside us indeed is greatness and may we be mindful it is hard to be effective in public ministry if we constantly compromise and crash over the cliff personally. May we all be wise opposed to wild while giving Him the glory regardless if it looks glamorous or not.
In ministry, we find times we must be bold and assertive and other times we need to back off the gas and patiently wait on the Lord. May each time we leave our homes, jump in a car or proverbial plane to do ministry may we pause, pray and ask God for the grace and wisdom to know the difference. Take a good look at the limo above and ask God to protect our family, ministry and colleagues because anyone of us could be next. For the grace of God there go I. God help us all and Jesus Take The Wheel. In closing, if it is GREY may we STAY AWAY!