Last week, I attended a conference at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C. for two days with pastors and church leaders from all over the Southeast. I was able to meet meet Billy Graham's daughter, Gi Gi and have breakfast and lunch with her husband, Dr. Jim Wilson.
At the end of the conference, he drove me to the 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, he said, "Frank have you ever heard the story of the rich man and the limo driver?"
He shared a true story I had never heard before of a very wealthy businessman who was looking to hire full-time chauffeur. The rich man had the selection process narrowed to three final candidates and met them individually to give them a road test. Their assignment was to see how close they could drive the limousine 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! 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 said to the second contestant, "Top that!" The next applicant hopped in, threw the car in drive, pressed the gas and parked the car no less than six inches away from the cliff. He jumped out and strutted like a peacock. Everyone wondered how the final contestant for the coveted job would out do him.
The final driver jumped in the lavish car, said a brief prayer, put on his seatbelt and 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 harassed him, but the millionaire said with a smile, "You are the driver for me." He hired the final driver and dismissed the other two. What was the difference?
As a Christian, it is imperative that we don't compromise, cut corners, flirt with temptation and do better to stay away from catastrophe. My friend and fellow evangelist, Tony Nolan said in regards to sin, "If it is gray, stay away!" If you have to ask yourself if something is wrong, it probably is. Most fail in private way before in public. 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." That should convict us all. Secondly, he put on his seatbelt just like we must put on the full armor of God daily. The moment we think we can hit cruise control in ministry is often when we hit speed bumps. Lastly, he didn't have to showboat 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 riding in the backseat of the limousine, but the true wealth is the Lord Jesus who is in our hearts. We must ask daily if we going to call the shots or let Him drive and dictate our daily route?
We are worth far more than a limousine. As messengers of the gospel, may we continue to not only promote the Word, but also 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 to compromise and cut corners. 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 harass us, but inside us is greatness. May we be mindful that it is hard to be effective in public ministry if we constantly compromise and crash over the cliff in our own lives. May we all be wise rather than wild, giving Him the glory regardless if it looks glamorous or not.
In ministry, we find times that we must be bold and assertive and other times that 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. For the grace of God, there go I.