Dwight Moody is a compelling character. He travelled the world proclaiming the gospel, started multiple schools and ministries, and set paradigms followed by other evangelists like Billy Graham. Yet, it would be a mistake to put Moody on a pedestal because of his accomplishments. Moody was just a man from Northfield.
As we think about how best to preserve the legacy of transformation left through Dwight Moody’s life and ministry, we have to resist the temptation to create a self-made man with a larger-than-life persona who accomplished great things by sheer force of will. Instead, we have to tell a story in which an imperfect man surrenders himself to God for God’s use. While Moody’s achievements are impressive, we miss something fundamental to the legacy of transformation if we focus on the results of Moody’s ministry.
The legacy Moody left was a legacy of submission expressed through prayer, commitment to the Scriptures, a desire to seek out the will of God, and a willingness to proclaim the gospel boldly, plainly, and with earnest. Dwight Moody wasn’t perfect. He was flawed and limited, but he was open to God’s use. As we think about what we need to preserve from the life and ministry of D.L. Moody, we have to look beyond the results of his ministry to his unrelenting pursuit of God in his daily life. We have to look to his willingness to be less so that Christ could be more. We have to look beyond the man from Northfield to the God who uses those willing to follow Him without reserve or regret.
JAMES SPENCER, PHD is President the D.L. Moody Center, an independent non-profit organization based in Northfield, MA, and author of Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody and Thinking Christian: Essays on Testimony, Accountability, and the Christian Mind