The Leadership Assessment of Billy Graham, Research Paper Example
Words: 3024Research Paper
William (Billy) F. Graham is one of the most famous Christian evangelists of modern times. He is reported to have preached to audiences in excess of 215 million people in over 185 countries world-wide. In addition he reached hundreds of millions of people through the media gospels including TV, Internet, Video’s, films and webcasts. In addition he has met with several US Presidents and acted in the capacity of a spiritual advisor. Graham holds an honorary Doctorate and is an ordained Southern Baptist Minister. He lives in the mountainous areas of North Carolina where he lived with his wife Ruth who died in 2007.
This paper focuses upon Graham’s evangelical leadership qualities. The paper is divided into five main parts. Part 1 Provides an Introduction and background on his leadership qualities. Part 2 Examines how Graham developed his leadership skills from a number of different perspectives. Part 3 Looks at the qualities in more detail and how his style inspired others. Part 4 examines the leadership from the lens of spiritual development and Part 5 Integrates the leadership component to the practical theological landscape. The paper finishes with conclusions that summarize the key points.
Billy Graham is one of the most famous world evangelist preachers. He was inspired by Christian teachings and a firm belief in his relationship with God. From this he gained strength and outstanding leadership skills that made him both a great orator and servant of God. These skills were honed and gained him outstanding international recognition as both an evangelist and leader within the Christian faith.
Billy Graham was born in 1918 and he was quoted as saying his main purpose in life “ is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe comes through knowing Christ” (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association). Graham was raised on a dairy farm in North Carolina where he learnt the meaning of hard work during the period of the depression. Despite this he set aside time to study and read on a wide range of subject matter. He became an ordained Minister in 1939 at a Southern Baptist convention. He gained his grounding in the scriptures at the Florida Bible Institute.
It was the 1949 Los Angeles crusade that launched Graham in an international context. This followed an extensive period of crusades throughout the USA and overseas. Today he is 93 years of age and is one of the most respected Christian evangelists in the world. He has written in excess of 30 books and has received a comprehensive range of awards and honours for a lifetime of achievement. Graham had three daughters, two sons, 19 grandchildren and 38 great grandchildren (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association).
There is an extremely large Literature base covering the works of Billy Graham. The best literary collection being at the Billy Graham Evangelical Association (BGEA) which is headquartered in Minneapolis. This paper narrows the search by looking at the specific leadership qualities of Graham. Amongst the best literary works in this field are that of The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham, by Harold Myra, Marshall Shelley (Harold Myra 2005). The book casts a new angle on Graham and looks at his international leadership characteristics based upon empirical research conducted with interviews of people that knew and experienced his life’s journey.
The book Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda by Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby (Henry Blackaby 2001) is important in putting spiritual leadership into the proper context. It widens the lens to look at the contribution of others in the Christian movement from a leadership perspective. The book Leading With Billy Graham: The Leadership Principles And Life of T. W. Wilson (Jay Dennis 2007). This text has huge significance as it illustrates how Graham influenced T.W. Wilson his long life friend and fellow evangelist. Wilson as the PA of Graham learnt how to develop his own leadership skills and under the mentorship of Graham became hugely influential in his own right. David Aikman a Times Correspondent published the works entitled – Billy Graham: His Life and Influence. (Aikmam 2007). In addition to looking at the leadership qualities of Graham this book is important for covering his sermons after the 9/11 disaster and his message in trying to help heal a grieving nation.
Kenneth Boa in ‘Conformed tom his image’ (Boa 2009) focuses how Graham built his personal relationship with God and used this to develop both his spiritual and leadership capabilities. The work from Estep and Kim provides an understanding of integrating human development into theological education and provides a more holistic view of teaching Christianity. (James Estep 2010)
Moral Development – This is best illustrated by the work of Graham in the Civil Rights movement. The illustration to the right shows Billy Graham with Dr. Martin Luther King. Graham was supportive of the civil rights movement. In 1952 Graham stopped the practice of conducting segregated evangelical crusades and did this in the face of a large amount of criticism. Graham together with the black evangelist Rev Howard Jones changed the face of religious practices in the USA. Graham also lobbied to end segregation on the streets and took his message right to the heart of the matter on the streets of New York. Both King and Graham were towering figures of courage, determination. It was Graham and Jones however that helped to integrate the Christian crusades in New York. The bond between Graham and King continued to strengthen the Christian crusades in the South and Bill Clinton acknowledged this contribution of unification and how they changed the attitudes in the South. In the years that followed Graham continued to work with other US presidents in the resolution of racism and civil rights and helped with the healing process through dialogue and peaceful initiatives; essentially carrying on the work of Dr. King Through the deep convictions and courage of Graham he defied the protagonists and forged a process to work for lasting peace, equality and unification of men regardless of race or creed.
Personality Development – From 1948 Graham became involved in many evangelical crusades. He used large stadiums and arenas and regularly spoke to a large number of people. He was a tall towering personality that spoke with considerable oratory skills. He was extremely compelling to listen and people responded to his sermons. He travelled far and wide including London, New York and Moscow where he established missions. Most significant being the Billy Graham Evangelical Association (BGEA) which was headquartered in Minneapolis.
During the cold war era it was Graham who was the first evangelist to appear in Eastern Europe and Soviet Russia calling for greater understanding and world peace. He attracted large crowds wherever he went and in 1973 he travelled to South Africa where he denounced apartheid. His crusades in the United Kingdom filled capacity sports arenas and in South Korea he managed to attract an audience of more than I million people. Other significant events included:-
- Leading the prayer and remembrance service in New York after 9/11;
- Holding the memorial service after the Oklahoma bombing;
- Festival of Hope in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina;
- Maryland Franklin Graham Festival in Baltimore;
Faith development – Graham started out by hoping to become a Chaplain in the armed forces. Instead he took up a post with ‘Youth for Christ International’, as founded by the Canadian Torrey Johnson. This saw Graham travelling throughout the USA and Europe gaining early exposure to evangelical work and preaching the gospel. Despite little formal theological training at this stage he made his early mark. He was encouraged to apply and study theology at Princeton University in order to gain a theological degree but he declined. It was the revival meetings in Los Angeles in 1949 that was the turning point in Graham achieving notoriety. He gained recognition as a national figure for his sermons. By 1954 Graham was on the front cover of Time Magazine
From 1948 Graham became involved in many evangelical crusades. He used large stadiums and arenas and regularly spoke to a large number of people. He was a tall towering personality that spoke with considerable oratory skills. He was extremely compelling to listen and people responded to his sermons. He travelled far and wide including London, New York and Moscow where he established missions. Most significant being the Billy Graham Evangelical Association (BGEA) which was headquartered in Minneapolis
Spiritual Development – Graham was a member of the Democratic party, although he was not really allied to any political party because he felt Christ was neutral of political considerations. He stated that he was on the side of morality, human freedom and justice for all. This is achieved through following the doctrines of Christianity and not through political agendas. Graham considered all politics as secondary to the teachings of the gospel. He did however feel compelled to speak out on political doctrines that had an adverse impact on human life and the teachings of the gospel e.g. racism, segregation, communism and those against the accepted doctrines of Christianity. Graham then went to learn the scriptures at the Florida Bible Institute. He later graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in Anthropology and by this time he was already practicing his sermon skills. It was at Wheaton where Graham accepted the Christian scriptures (word of god) and decided on his evangelical career.
Leadership theories – Sigmund Freud – Sigmund Freud was born in Moravia (Czechoslovakia) on 6th May 1856. His father was a wool merchant. In 1859 the family moved to Vienna in Austria. Freud hated Vienna where he lived a life of hardship and struggle. He was of Jewish parents and because of anti-Semitism his works were burned in Berlin in 1938 a year before the outbreak of the Second World War. Freud escaped to London where he remained in exile. Whilst the family remained loyal to the Jewish community, Freud had lost most of his religious beliefs during early adolescence. Freud spoke extensively on leadership and these characteristics can be exemplified in the leadership qualities of Billy Graham. Freud was quoted as saying “A man should not strive to eliminate his complexes but to get into accord with them: they are legitimately what directs his conduct in the world” (Ulrey 2011).
Napoleon Bonaparte stated on leadership “A leader is a dealer in hope” (Stock 2012). In this sense Graham preached the message of God and the Christian doctrines of salvation through the teachings of Jesus Christ. In the last 10 years, Management Scientists have been trying to put forward the best styles of leadership for modern business management. The work to date indicates that there is not a single leadership style that fits all business management applications. Dr. Paul Hersey is a Management Professor that has put forward one model on situational leadership. In his book ‘The Situational Leader’ he focuses upon how a follower achieves a readiness state and illustrates this in four quadrants containing the elements of effective leadership. The Model as developed by Blanchard and Hersey essentially holds that managers must vary their leadership style in accordance with the situation that presents itself.
The Situational Leadership Model by Blanshard and Hersey is an important contribution because it has created a relatively simple matrix in order to explain a complex subject. Managers in larger Corporations are able to examine their directive and supportive leadership styles and determine where they are portrayed on the Model. By adjusting, the dynamics of their leadership style that can fine-tune the behavioural stance of leadership to be more supportive or more directive as the occasion demands. Hersey pointed out that this is not a theoretical concept but that of a leadership model. This is because the model is more application oriented and may be modified or adapted to meeting various situations as opposed to theoretical considerations that are normally more fixed.
Disciplined spirituality – Billy Graham has served as a spiritual advisor for seven American Presidents and has been regarded as “the nation’s pastor” for his remarkable contribution towards the welfare of a nation. His reach has been a truly global one and he has influenced millions of people throughout the world. In this sense he has took the message of Christianity to the people of the world and tried to make a difference. He has used all means at his disposal including the power of the internet, delivering personal messages to large congregations throughout the world. He has influenced Presidents and has been an ambassador for the promotion of world peace and harmony amongst nations.
Motivated Spirituality – “And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2). It is the concept of teaching others and being motivated to do so. During the cold war era it was Graham who was the first evangelist to appear in Eastern Europe and Soviet Russia calling for greater understanding and world peace. He attracted large crowds wherever he went and in 1973 he travelled to South Africa where he denounced apartheid. His crusades in the United Kingdom filled capacity sports arenas and in South Korea he managed to attract an audience of more than I million people.
Devotional Spirituality – In many regards Billy Graham has illustrated devotion through his own personal family life and demonstrated Christian values. Graham has epitomised the importance of Family life in the USA through his marriage with Ruth and the raising of their five children in accordance with Christian doctrines. In this regard he has acted as a role model for Christians in the USA and throughout the world. His children now carry the beacon forward as Graham is in his 90’s and the work continues through an active evangelical centre, established by Graham, with links to similar institutions throughout the world. In this regards Graham has been remarkably successful in terms of spreading the Christian gospel.
Corporate Spirituality – Billy Graham has been the Corporate CEO of a business that has delivered evangelism on a global basis. He was quoted as saying his main purpose in life “ is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe comes through knowing Christ” (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association 2012).
Integrating Leadership and Theology
Evangelical CEO – Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. This has been founded to continue the work of Graham and has a comprehensive website for further information on the life and work of Graham. It introduces the training centre of ‘the cove’ in Ashville, NC a training retreat for those who wish to find quiet surroundings to explore their Christianity. The site includes a number of informative videos that illustrate the work of the evangelistic association throughout the world. The internet is a powerful communications tool that brings the evangelistic messages directly into the homes and lives of people throughout the world. The association being a registered charity accepts donations in order to help support and continue its work of spreading the Christian gospel.
International Leadership – His message has been delivered on an international basis not only by his many lecture circuits, sermons and missions to other countries but as a published author. Graham has authored over 29 books between 1947 to 2011 including that of his latest work in 2011 ‘Nearing Home: Life, faith and finishing well’ a remarkable testament to the journey of a remarkable man. Some of his other books included that of:
- Calling Youth to Christ (1947)
- Peace with God (1953)
- My Answer (1960)
- World Aflame (1965)
- How to be born again (1977)
- Unto the Hills (1986)
- Storm Warning (1992)
- Key to personal peace (2003)
Inspiring Team leadership – Testimony to his great team inspiration must be the huge amount of awards and recognition delivered to Graham. He has been honoured by a large number of surveys and institutions in the USA. He was described as being ‘Greatest Living American’ and has appeared in polls throughout the world as being one of the greatest respected persons. He has received a number of honorary Doctorate degrees. He is a recipient of the US Congressional Gold Medal and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Reagan, the highest civilian honour in the USA. In Britain he was made a KBE or Knight Commander of the British Empire. The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte was opened in 2007 and was attended by Presidents Carter, Bush and Clinton. The list of other honours is an extremely long list.
Billy Graham illustrated the qualities of a transformational leader characterising a strong sense of purpose and vision. A Transformational leader is identified by the characteristics of a person with vision, a strong sense of purpose and very goal oriented. He believes that people will follow those who inspire them. Hence goal attainment is by inspiring your subordinates motivating them by enthusiasm and energy. Working for these types of leaders can be a great experience as they derive a great deal of passion about their work and genuinely want you to succeed. Such leaders start with a clear identification of a vision. Leaders of this type are quick to exploit the vision by sharing it with their team. Such leaders are often seen to be using mind mapping or brainstorming sessions with their subordinates. They believe in inclusivity and the power of team dynamics. This leader has some positive advantages:
- Visionary and strategic thinker
- Strong sense of purpose and goal attainment
- Leads by example and coaches the team to victory
- Highly motivated towards team and group success
Aikmam, David. Billy Graham: His Life and Influence. New York: Thomas Nelson Inc, 2007.
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Billy Graham Biography. 2012. (accessed 4 11, 2012).
Boa, Kenneth. Conformed to his image. Grad Rapids MI: Zondervan, 2009.
Harold Myra, Marshall Shelley. The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham. Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan, 2005.
Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby. Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda. Nashville, Tennasee: B&H Publishing Group, 2001.
James Estep, Jonathan H. Kim. Christian Formation: Integrating Theology and Human Development. New York: B&H Publishing, 2010.
Jay Dennis, Billy (FRW) Graham. Leading With Billy Graham: The leadership principles and life of T.Wilson. New York: Baker Publishing Group, 2007.
Stock, David. “A leader is a dealer in hope.” Discovering Stoone Vol 40(19), 2012: 1-2.
Ulrey, Peter. 5 Enlightened Leadership thoughts from Freud. 5 6, 2011. http://www.fearlessway.com/?p=523 (accessed 9 24, 2012).
Time is precious
don’t waste it!