The Influence of a Godly Life
For his 85th birthday, Andy Stanley hosted a warm and personal interview of his father. With these words Andy began: “He is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Atlanta and president of In Touch Ministries. You know him as Dr. Charles Stanley; I call him Dad.
Then, for the next half hour, the audience sat and listened to this heartfelt dialog, as one question easily followed another — questions about life, ministry, parenting, and priorities. Below (paraphrased for clarity and continuity) are selections from that interview.
(Andy) You are 85 years old! How long are you going to keep going, doing what you are doing?
(Dr. Stanley) As long as the Lord gives me the strength, the energy, and the message. I want my life to count until my last day.
(Andy) I remember getting a call from you, and you told me that you would like to find a pastor a little bit ahead of you and ask him some questions. And I told you that there is no such person! But if that person existed, what would you ask?
(Dr. Stanley) Does it ever get easier? I would ask such a person if it ever gets easier, especially the sermon preparation.
After I have preached on Sunday morning, I take a nap on Sunday afternoon, get up from my nap, and start again. I ask The Lord, “What is next?” What is the need?” This makes sure I keep my heart clean, pure, and committed.
(Andy) Who has had the greatest influence on your life?
(Dr. Stanley) Spiritually, my grandfather. But then, there was Dr. W. A. Criswell. As a young seminary student I heard him preach in Dallas on Romans 5:1-2: “This Grace in Which We Stand.” (Even now, it makes me weep to remember.) I told God, “God, I knew there was somewhere a man who could preach like this.” He inspired me more than any other.
(Andy) What advice would you give to people in their 20’s?
(Dr. Stanley) You need to know what your purpose is all about. Don’t just float through life going from one job to another.
A lot of people live without purpose. These people are never satisfied, never complete. So ask, “What does God want to do with my life?” Major on asking God to give you direction for your life.
(Andy) What advice would you give to people in their 30’s and 40’s, people who are trying to raise their children?
(Dr. Stanley) I would tell parents to be honest with their children, to convey to them a sense of purpose, and to model your own relationship with The Lord, if you want such for them.
In parenting, I sought to impart to you (Andy) and your sister Becky both purpose and freedom. I told you, “God has a plan for your life, and you don’t want to miss it.” And with freedom, I constantly reminded you, “You are accountable to God.” This is a powerful parenting combination: purpose and freedom.
(Andy) I want our audience to know the backstory. So many pastors are married to the church. But to your credit, you never missed a ballgame, and you were at every special event. You got these right.
(Andy) What advice would you give to people in their 60’s and 70’s?
(Dr. Stanley) Ask God, “What is the next chapter in my life; what is the next challenge; what do You want me to accomplish now?” Never disengage from life. Live out your life to the last day doing something that is wise, godly, and profitable for you and for the people who know you.
(Andy) Your prayer life is the most important thing in your life.
You taught me that morning prayer time is where we get re-centered. And you taught me to pray on my knees. This posture of submission is so powerful; I learned it from you.
(Dr. Stanley) Yes. If your prayer life is not right, nothing else is right. The most important one thing we can do is pray. Just to think, I can talk to the heavenly Father. He is personally interested. Remember, He knows all about you, He knows the past, present, and future, and He knows what He equipped you to do. He is there to listen to you talk to Him!
(Andy) When I think about what brings you the most joy, it is still you relationship with Jesus Christ. You are the most surprised by your success. You are the most surprised by the breath of the ministry. Consequently, you are the most grateful for all that God has done.
Living With Eternal Intentionality®
“The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.” (Proverbs 20:29)
What is one piece of wisdom you gleaned from this interview?
What in life brings you the most joy?
How do you plan to reorder your priorities based on the advice of this 85-year-old man?
Note: The complete interview is available youtube.com/watch?v=eed7JWjlhmQ