The year was 1964 and I was in San Diego to counsel at a Billy Graham crusade.  It was a Sunday evening youth meeting at

College Avenue Baptist Church and the speaker was Grady Wilson, one of Billy’s associate evangelists. When Grady finished speaking they had a Q&A time and one of the questions was this:

“During all these years, how has Billy Graham managed to stay humble?”

To this day I still remember word for word, how Grady answered this question. He said:

“When the team first formed we made a deal with Billy that if God would keep him anointed, we would keep him humble.”


What a powerful two-fold secret to ministry fruitfulness!

1.  The hand of God on my life ~ Anointing

2.  A few good friends in my life ~ Rebuking

I am reminded of the fact that King David had Jonathan to encourage him and Nathan to rebuke him. You and I need both.

In this particular case, we are talking about a few Nathans (Billy’s team members.)

Let’s take these one at a time.


There can be no substitute for the clear hand of God, the anointing of God, on my life  for ministry fruitfulness. What difference does anything I do make if it is not clear that God is empowering and leading me? As Paul says in I Corinthians 3:5-7: “…God gave the growth.”  Yes, one waters and another plants, but God makes it happen. Without the hand of God on what I do, without the Holy Spirit clearly and powerfully at work, what difference does any of my work or activities really make?

More than at any time in my life, I deeply long for and pray for God’s anointing hand on all that I undertake. I am more dependent, more expectant than I’ve ever been. I have zero confidence in my gifts, personality or experience to make something of eternal value happen. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1, ESV.

We can discuss exactly what “Anointing” actually looks like and there may be differences of opinion on this, but I can’t imagine a single Christian Leader not longing, praying and believing the Lord for this on his or her life.

Anointing falls into the category of things we don’t think much about or talk much about anymore, but should! It sems to me that we hear about anointing more in charismatic than reformed circles. The anointing of God on life and ministry needs to be given more serious thought and attention.


As I look over the landscape of Christian leadership today, I am grieved and saddened over the gifted leaders I hear and read about (and some I personally know) who have fallen due to moral failure of some sort: sexual, relational or financial. Where was the accountability? Where were the Nathans, the real friends to keep them humble and accountable?

Either those “friends” didn’t have the courage to speak up and to speak out, or the leader was not open to any of his so-called “friends” challenging him or rebuking him when it was obvious and necessary.

I desperately need some people in my life (and am glad I have some, starting with my wife) who will call a spade a spade and not be afraid to confront me, regardless of how popular, respected or successful I appear to be.  If I’m about to drive my car off the cliff, I sincerely and desperately pray and trust  that someone would courageously step in, rather than say, “Well, it’s his car. If he wants to drive it off a cliff I guess that’s his business.”  No! No!  It’s not my business that’s at stake here, but the business of God’s kingdom. It affects dozens if not hundreds of people when a leader falls…goes over the cliff.

My fellow leaders, may I lovingly challenge and encourage you to be on your knees praying for God’s anointing on your life, your family and the ministry he has called you to?

May I lovingly challenge you to surround yourself with some real friends who will stand solidly between you and the edge of the cliff?