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Influences

Leader Influences

What historical figure has most influenced your spiritual disciplines?

George Müller

    Donald S. Whitney
    Professor of biblical spirituality; Associate dean of the School of Theology
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    Perhaps George Müller, whose biography I read in seminary (and require of my students as well) has had more influence on my practice of the personal spiritual disciplines than any other post-biblical figure. I could point to many things, but his legendary prayer life, his quarterly reading of the entire Bible, and especially his transformative insights about meditation on Scripture revolutionized not only my devotional life, but my entire Christian walk and experience.

    “His transformative insights about meditation on Scripture revolutionized not only my devotional life, but my entire Christian walk and experience.”

    Martin Luther

      Thomas R. Schreiner
      James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation; professor of biblical theology; and associate dean of the School of Theology
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      Martin Luther has captured my mind and heart over the years because he felt deeply his sin, and so also felt deeply the grace of God. When I go to God in prayer and in Scripture, I am a poor and desperate sinner who is needy for grace and strength. Every time I read Luther he reminds me of my spiritual poverty, and approaching God as one who is spiritually poor is the best way and the right way to approach him.

      “Every time I read Luther he reminds me of my spiritual poverty.”

      Jim Elliot

        Gregory A. Wills
        Dean of the School of Theology; David T. Porter Professor of Church History

        “Jim Elliot because of his no-excuses, full-steam-ahead approach to discipleship and its spiritual disciplines.”

        Dietrich Bonhoeffer

          Timothy Paul Jones
          C. Edwin Gheens Professor of Christian Family Ministry; Associate vice president for the Global Campus
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          Almost 15 years ago, God used these words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together to confront and to crush some unhealthy leadership patterns in my pastoral ministry: “The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community … enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly. … He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.” Through this, I was reminded that the church is not a platform whose purpose is to send my visionary ideals into orbit around my own wishful dreams. These people are the property of God, purchased by the blood of Christ, and my purpose is to aim them toward his purposes, not mine.

          Richard Baxter

            TimOTHY Beougher
            Associate dean, Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry; Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth
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            As a history buff, I have been blessed to learn helpful concepts from numerous saints of old. Richard Baxter (1615-1691) has perhaps influenced my spiritual disciplines the most. His classic work, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest, is a model for how to practice focused meditation on a biblical text. His writings on the brevity of life and seriousness of ministry help remind me what is at stake in my ministry of preaching and teaching: “I preached as if never to preach again, as a dying man to dying men.” The greatest compliment I can pay Richard Baxter is that whenever I read his writing, he is always pointing me to the Savior.