It’s graduation season. Cap and gowns are everywhere as students from preschool to graduate school celebrate the completion of a chapter in their lives.
I still remember my high school graduation. It was a highlight in my life. No, I wasn’t the Valedictorian. But I did graduate a semester early. That’s right!
Was it because I was such an outstanding student my teachers decided I had already learned everything? Not exactly. The truth is our school was so crowded and our city was growing so fast school administrators were looking for ways to create more space. So they asked for volunteers who might want to complete their high school career in 3 ½ years.
Hey. I did it for the poor students who needed an education. That’s how I roll!
Since my graduation day I have learned a few things I would like to pass along to others who are preparing to receive their diplomas. Here they are:
Keep your brain alive. My father used to walk into people’s offices and ask them, “Show me when your brain died.” The last book they bought indicated their date of death. We should never graduate from reading. In our culture, we also have audio and video downloads, but there is still something unique about reading a line on a page and having the time to reflect before moving on. Don’t let your brain die!
Be a good steward of everything God has given you. More than one excellent student has come to mediocrity or disaster because he took his God-given abilities or resources for granted. In reverse, some who struggled in school have succeeded because they worked hard to make the most of what God gave them.
Practice humility. Be humble while you are young and learn. Otherwise, when you are old enough to be considered an expert, you will just have to pretend. Actually, those who learn humility rarely consider themselves an expert in anything, and ironically, these are the ones we are all most likely to ask for advice.
Put character first. We all want to be known for our accomplishments, but character “is” an accomplishment. Satan knows if he can weaken our moral integrity, we are putty in his hands. I will add that character isn’t just about doing the right things. I have met plenty of legalistic people in my life who live by a strict moral code, but who treat people badly. Character demands we treat others with respect as those who are striving with us to live lives pleasing to God.
Be comfortable with the way God has made you. We are all “wired” differently. We are introverted, extroverted, analytical, risk-takers, academic, athletic, left-brained and right-brained. We can expand our horizons and grow in areas that don’t come naturally, but we will usually default to the personality God put in us. If we can figure out how we are made we can avoid some of the pitfalls that come with constantly comparing ourselves to others.
Stay in church. Ok, so you expected a preacher to say this. I am not so naïve to think everyone who goes to church is going to have a perfect life. I also realize there are those who grew up in such a strict environment, they weren’t allowed to do anything unless it was at the church building. But these are the extremes. Hands down, the best thing any of us can do moving forward in our lives is to put down roots in a church family. Church is where we learn what it means to be a part of a community. It’s where we hear weekly thoughts from God’s Word that help us grow as people. We don’t have to agree with everything we hear in church. I don’t, and I’m the preacher! Yet, I am convinced the most authentic, life-changing, heart-deepening experiences we will have anywhere are found in church. Attend church regularly so people know what’s going on in your life and you know what’s going on other people’s lives. Let the Lord and His people be your anchor through all of life’s changing seasons.
You may have some other points to add to my list. I am just one person.
But this person has learned a lot since graduation.
And I have a lot more to learn.