British preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “By perseverance the snail finally reached the ark.” Many start out in their Christian lives and ministries filled with the vision of God burning in their hearts. But a few years later they find themselves shipwrecked, failing to persevere and complete their destiny in God.
Three young ministers of the gospel in the late 1940s were bursting onto the ministry scene. Two of the three had already achieved notable influence. Chuck Templeton and Bron Clifford were preaching dynamos. One university president, after hearing Templeton preach to a crowd of several thousand, called him the most talented and gifted young preacher in the United States. Bron Clifford was also believed to be someone who would greatly impact the church world. When Clifford preached at a chapel service at Baylor University, the president of the university was so awed by his preaching that he ordered the school bells turned off so there would be no interruption.
Both Templeton and Clifford started out strong. But by 1950, Templeton left Christian ministry in pursuit of a career as a radio and television commentator. He eventually decided that he no longer believed in Orthodox Christianity. Clifford’s story is nothing short of tragic. By 1954, he had left his wife and two children. Alcohol was the vice that destroyed his life. Only nine years after being the most sought after preacher in the United States, Clifford was found dead in a sleazy motel room.
You may be wondering who the third evangelist was. His name is Billy Graham. While Templeton and Clifford were enjoying their success, Graham was establishing boundaries within his personal life and ministry that would ensure his longevity. And Billy is finishing well. Our God has called us to do the same.
Today, there is a new generation of Christian leaders emerging throughout the world. They are bold and radical, but like Daniel, they have purposed in their hearts to not ”defile themselves” (Daniel 1:8) These young leaders have made a decision to persevere as they walk in obedience to God’s Word and establish godly boundaries in their personal lives.
God’s will for each of us is to persevere and leave behind a godly legacy. As long as we have breath, we can have great hope for the future. It is never too late.