Want to speak with authority?

Do you ever feel like you have a voice, but it goes unheard? Do you speak with authority? If not, do you want to?

Have you heard of Billy Graham? Graham (1918-2018) was an American evangelist considered to be among the most influential Christian leaders of the 20th century. He spoke with authority. His Gospel message was simple; he did not adorn it with sophisticated language or deep philosophy. But, when he spoke people listened.

Graham holds a special place in my life. We never met. I never saw him in person, but he changed my trajectory. When I was young, it was not unusual for him to appear on television and provide a sermon for the “Billy Graham crusades”. One evening when I was maybe eight years old, my mother insisted that I sit and watch. She was in the kitchen cleaning; I was all alone. It would have been natural for me to lose interest and begin playing with my Hot Wheels, but I didn’t.

He spoke. I listened. I understood. When he gave the invitation to accept Jesus as my one and only savior, I accepted. I knew a change had occurred. Immediately. My journey began.

Graham spoke with authority because his message was not his own. He preached Jesus’ message of sacrifice and grace. Here’s what Jesus said about those who would spread his Gospel: Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)

Greater than the greatest. That’s a compelling opportunity, but before we get too carried away with ourselves, know this. Graham’s authority was made possible by his topic and was grounded in his humility. He was often criticized for exactly what drew me to him as an eight-year-old boy. He spoke simply. Small words. No self-aggrandizement. None. Many called him a rube.

Another great teacher in Christian history is Paul; he wrote many of the new testament books. Paul understood his place beneath Christ and accepted his role to spread the Gospel message with raw humility. Here’s what Paul said: But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Want authority? Humble yourself. Speak Jesus’ truth. Be greater than the greatest.

About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
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