Billy Graham is an evangelist with legendary status within the Christian church. For over 60 years he faithfully adhered to his calling of preaching the gospel to people around the world. As a result he has preached the message of Jesus to an estimated 2 billion people, more people than any other preacher in history. And his ministry has led to millions putting their faith in Christ.

One of the most frequent descriptions of Graham is as a “man of integrity.” For over 60 years, where many other evangelists and ministries became discredited, he managed to maintain a reputation as being a trustworthy man of God.

Part of the reason for this goes back to a moment in 1949, very early in his ministry. He and his team were growing in popularity, and whilst staying at a hotel in Modesto, California, Graham challenged his senior team to each come up with a list of issues that caused evangelistic ministries to implode. The team each spent an hour in their hotel rooms, and came back with remarkably similar lists that featured four issues; money, sex, lying and pride.

Out of this they wrote a series of commitments they agreed to adhere to throughout their ministry, which became known as the Modesto Manifesto:

The Modesto Manifesto

  • We will never criticize, condemn or speak negatively about others.
  • We will be accountable, particularly in handling finances, with integrity according to the highest business standards.
  • We will tell the truth and be thoroughly honest, especially in reporting statistics.
  • We will be exemplary in morals – clear, clean, and careful to avoid the very appearance of any impropriety.

The Modesto Manifesto laid out a plan for how they would navigate the temptations of money, sex, lying and pride. And by finding ways to live these commitments out, or testing all their actions to check they remained in line with the manifesto, they were able to serve the world for 60 years with integrity.

What do you need to learn from Billy Graham about integrity from the Modesto Manifesto? How do you ensure integrity is a foundational part of your life and ministry?

Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.