George Floyd Taylor was an amazing man. He was one of the earliest members of the Holiness Church of North Carolina and a leading figure in the IPHC following the 1911 merger in Falcon, North Carolina. Despite a congenital handicap, he worked tirelessly for the cause of Jesus Christ. He was an avid reader and student, and he earned a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina.
Nearly 100 years ago in Falcon, North Carolina, Taylor wrote in The Pentecostal Holiness Advocate (in the September 26, 1918 issue) about something that happened to him as a boy. “When I was a lad I received a mental vision of the vastness of this world and of its needs,” Taylor wrote, “and I consecrated my life to God to do something to help save it and bless it.”
On the night of January 7, 1919, in Franklin Springs, Georgia, the 38-year-old Taylor added this to what God did in his life as a youngster:
“I carefully sought to a text in the Bible that might make my motto for life, and the Spirit seemed to give me Romans 12:11. I have tried to make this the motto of my life; and I hope that death may ever take me in this motto.” (Quoted in January 16, 1919 issue of The PH Advocate).
Romans 12:11 in the King James Version reads, “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” I find Taylor’s life inspiring for many reasons: he was the second IPHC General Superintendent (1913-1917); he was General Treasurer of the IPHC; he was editor of the first IPHC magazine, The Pentecostal Holiness Advocate; he was headmaster of the Falcon Holiness School; he wrote the first Sunday School lessons (for all grades) of the IPHC; he wrote several books; and he was manager of the Pentecostal Holiness Publishing House.
He also began Franklin Springs Institute—now Emmanuel College—in January 1919. As the founder of Franklin Springs Institute, he made his personal life motto verse the motto verse of the school.
One thing is certain, G.F. Taylor fully obeyed Romans 12:11! There are events in our childhood that shape our future. Sometimes it’s a dream or vision, or it’s something we see or hear. Those events can harden our hearts or make us sensitive to God.
Reading these comments by Taylor describing his own youth, I have pictures of IPHC young people from around the world hearing the voice of God. Among the lessons of his life, three come to the forefront for each generation.
First, though he grew up in rural North Carolina, God spoke to his young mind and showed him “the vastness of this world and of its needs.” God’s ability to speak to us can overcome our normal worldview and experiences. A child can investigate the vast expanse of a night sky and realize the world is larger than their surroundings. Today, youngsters explore the universe or see the world’s needs through Google.
John Wesley saw the needs of the world but experienced his adequacy when he went to Georgia as a young Anglican missionary. Leaving Georgia, he spent the rest of his life riding across “this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England” and through those lenses realized “the world is my parish.”
As a boy I remember IPHC missionaries visiting the church. Their stories touched my heart and expanded the borders of my thinking and my desires. God used those men and women to awaken me to what I would later discover to be God’s will for my life—service to Him.
That was the second thing about Taylor that speaks to me in these decades of life: A consecration to live, serve and bless the world the Lord enables me to touch. I see a young generation arising today that wants the challenges of a fully consecrated life to Christ. To a growing number of young, comfort, prestige, and recognition do not compare to living for a cause greater than oneself.
Finally, we can all learn what it is to study the Bible, in Taylor’s words, “to carefully” (seek) God speaking to us with a defining Word from the Bible. For Taylor, that verse was Romans 12:11. For St. Augustine, struggling to finally consecrate his whole self to God, it was Romans 13:13-14: “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (NKJV).
The key is that boys and girls, as well as men and women, are exposed to the life-changing power of the Word of God. As a lad, G.F. Taylor learned the power of God’s Word and sought God’s defining word for his life. None of us are too old for God to cease speaking to us. New seasons of life bring forth fresh insights from the Word. But we must have ears to hear, and there must be voices to speak.
In the marathon called life, where generations arrive, mature, and prepare to leave, there are legacies to leave for others. G.F. Taylor’s life gives us three of those legacies: a vision for the world and its needs; the power of full surrender to what God desires of us; and a life lived by the sustaining power of the Word of God.
By Doug Beacham
This article was published in the September 2018 issue of Encourage.