by Philip Bailey
My Daddy is a great man of God! And to whom much is given, much is required. I have been blessed with a great heritage!
My dad is one of the most humble men I have ever known. He came from very humble beginnings, but was motivated to be the best he could be…never in competition with others or attempting to “achieve” fame (though it came to him). His devotion was to preach the Word to the best of his ability.
The Lord gifted Dad with outstanding speaking abilities (in my unbiased opinion!). He was, from the 1950’s, privileged to preach around the world. One of my early memories of his traveling was in 1958. He was invited to preach in Russia—when Khrushchev was pounding his shoe on the table at the United Nations—when travel there to preach the gospel was not considered safe! I thought I would never see Dad again, but the Lord has a way of making His work prosper!
There was a toll on the family because of Dad’s extensive travel to gospel meetings and campaigns and his intense devotion to study. It was not easy on our family. I am grateful to have had a strong mother who could handle his long absences and raise two boys. Rather than resenting Dad, I felt it was my contribution to the Lord’s kingdom to have him preaching worldwide. Daddy was known worldwide both because of his travels and being on The Herald of Truth TV program. People began to recognize him and other wonderful godly men through their exposure on national and world TV.
Daddy preached in an era when many preachers didn’t have college degrees. Because the trend has changed, in most congregations today, he wouldn’t even be considered for an interview because he doesn’t have a college degree.
He actually practiced and lived what he preached. He was not concerned about money, popularity, prestige, sabbaticals, vacations, car/books/housing allowances or the size and notoriety of the congregation where he was preaching—either as the full-time minister or conducting a gospel meeting or area-wide campaign. When invited to consider preaching at another congregation (which he was frequently getting), I never heard Dad consider money, benefits, sabbaticals, etc.—it was always: is this where the Lord wants us and is this where we can do the most good for His work?
Although many people believe he had a photographic memory, his memory of both scripture and his lessons was from intense and laborious study. His self-discipline and lifelong pursuit of excellence spurred him to constantly study and create fresh sermons for every occasion. I am 63 years old and have never seen Dad use notes when he preaches. He never memorized his lessons…he knew them! He had a rule of thumb that for every minute he would preach he would invest an hour of preparation. So, until he was 88 years old, if he preached 20 minutes, I knew he had invested at least 20 hours of preparation…in addition to his Bible study and other reading.
To my knowledge, Daddy never had a “job description” as a minister. He was the pulpit minister, but was relentless in his efforts to be with people. He consistently made daily “rounds” at the hospitals, visited shut-ins, comforted the grieving, and counseling. He was a Barnabas—an encourager! He always encouraged young men to preach—including me. His inspiration was “no matter what you do in life, you will always be a preacher.”
It’s one thing to be an encourager, and quite another not to criticize. Daddy always tried to “equip the saints for the work of ministry and build up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4). Even when I knew he felt critical of someone, he would keep it to himself and look for some way to build that person (or group) up in the Lord. When I was in my mid 20’s, I was being critical of an eldership (justifiably, I reasoned). When asked how I should deal with them, Dad’s response was: “Son, two of the most critical people in any congregation are past preachers and past elders and their children…and you qualify in two of those areas. Even if your criticism is justified, your shepherds need your encouragement. Even if you are the only one in the congregation, you be the one that encourages those elders!” He told me when he was a young preacher, he committed himself to that standard—and if he couldn’t find something good in someone, he’d wait and watch until he could. One elder he recalled took some time for him to find something to compliment, but he found it. Being a shepherd now, I not only work to have his same attitude to fellow shepherds, but to each member of the Lord’s body. We desperately need more encouragement, genuinely, from within the Lord’s church!
While we were growing up in Abilene, Mother and Dad would have visiting preachers and missionaries in our home. Even when my brother and I were not interested in the conversation, we were exposed to great men and women of God from around the world. It gave us a perspective that God works mightily through all kinds of people, personalities, and means. It also gave us a great grasp of what it means to be a part of the church of God worldwide. Gaye, my wife, and I have practiced this with our children and, selfishly, for ourselves. Many congregations and families rob themselves today of such wonderful opportunities—either by not planning ahead or taking advantage of opportunities to have preachers and missionaries in their homes. It is also such an encouragement to the preachers and missionaries.
Jesus said, “Unless you become like little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of God”—my Dad has never lost his child-like spirit. He has been to the Holy Land over 20 times and each time he is like a little child that is so excited to share with those with him. His child-like spirit is also manifested in how he deals with people, both in the Lord and those in the world. From the celebrities he has met and worked with to the lowliest person, Daddy treats them…each of them…with equal respect and deference. To him, they are each unique and special in the sight of the Lord.
Both Mother and Dad taught and modeled a high work standard for me. It has served me well and is something Gaye and I have passed on to our children. Daddy taught me that if a man was paying me $1.00/hour “you work like he is paying you $2.00/hour and soon you’ll be making it.” He philosophy was always work harder and better than what you’re being paid…give more than what your given.
Dad also taught and modeled intense preparation—to be the best at whatever you do. Many people are either amazed or envy his speaking and memory, but have very little concept of the massive preparation and hard work “behind the stage.” So many want the results without putting in the work to achieve the results. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, as unto the Lord.”
From the time I was born, Daddy always prayed for the little Christian girl that would someday be my wife. He prayed daily for her and her parents. Today, after 37 years of marriage, when I look at Gaye, I see and am blessed with the answer to Daddy’s prayers.
What a heritage! How God has blessed me! I was blessed by having a man of God for my Daddy. Each of us, as men of God, has an opportunity to bless our children, the Lord’s church, and the world. My prayer for you is, as you read these thoughts, that you will be inspired to be the man of God—to be the best you can be! The world needs you, the church needs you, your family needs you, and I need you to be the man of God.
May the Lord bless you and multiply His grace in your life and work!