Billy Graham acted as a living example of the evangelistic messages he preached. His sermons were written not only to convict the crowds, but also to shape his own life. This series of “Living Out the Gospel” posts demonstrate how Mr. Graham “practiced what he preached.”
In His Own Words:
In the sight of God, parents are responsible for the training of their children. If parents fail, God is going to hold them responsible. I want to give a few suggestions to you Christian parents.
First: Take time with your children. … Your children not only require a great deal of your time, but they long and hunger for it.
Second: Give your children ideals for living. … Teach them moral and spiritual principles of life. Show them that only the morally and spiritually right attain genuine satisfaction in life.
Third: Set your children a good example. … Many parents preach to their children but do not set a good example.
Fourth: Plan activities for your children. Plan things together as a family. Make the home so interesting and delightful that your children will want to stay home; then they will never miss the pranks that so many young people are engaged in for thrills.
Fifth: Discipline your children. The devil’s philosophy is: Do as you please. Children are going to be in society what they are in the home. The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, teaches that parents ought to discipline their children.
Sixth: Teach your children to know God, and bring them up in the church. Very seldom do parents have trouble with children when the Bible is read regularly in the home, grace is said at the table and family prayers take place daily. Most trouble with teenagers comes from children reared in homes where prayer is neglected, the Bible is never opened and church attendance is spasmodic.
from the 1955 sermon “Responsibility of Parents”
Living Out the Gospel
Billy and Ruth had five children, and dealt with the struggle of keeping their large family private. Billy’s ministry, which demanded he travel often, caused another roadblock to being a responsible parent in God’s eyes.
These factors, however, did not change the dedication he held to his family. Mr. Graham was devastated that he missed the birth of his first child, Gigi. After this, he made sure he was home with Ruth for the birth of their next four children. Whenever he came home after long trips away, he cherished his family time. “For that reason, we tended not to have guests when I came home from a long trip,” he said in Just As I Am.
Mr. Graham admitted that constant travel caused a problem in the family, but he responded by trying to make their times together as normal as possible and to concentrate on his family as much as possible during the times he was home. Before he left for trips, he and his family would always hold hands and pray.
His oldest daughter, Gigi, recalls how he used to invent games, especially one called “Spider,” and how he played the card game, Rook, with the children. “Whenever I was home, I took them to school or met them when the school bus dropped them off in the afternoon, just so I could be with them as they went up the mountain toward home,” he said.
“Sometimes we went fishing or played croquet in the yard or just tossed a ball around. When the children were younger, they enjoyed having me read to them or just roll around on the floor with them. I made a point of saying goodnight to each of them before they went to sleep.”