A (Realistic) Word to Our Graduates
I have thanked God for you many times this week, as the testimonies of your love for God and one another have come across my desk repeatedly. I am grateful to be part of such a caring and sacrificial church.
While I normally use this up-to-700-word essay to speak rather broadly to our congregation, I decided this week to narrow my focus.
This is the time of year when kindergartners “graduate,” eighth graders are “promoted,” and diplomas are conferred upon high school and college seniors. And it all happens with great pomp and circumstance. I know, I’ve been to several such ceremonies this year alone.
At these celebratory events, the proffered advice typically goes like this: “The world is yours,” “there’s nothing you can’t do,” and “if you believe it, you can achieve it.” Well, let me add some pastoral (and hopefully, sage) counsel to the mix. First, the bad news. Contrary to the aforementioned mantras, not every wish will become a reality, even if you truly do “put your mind to it.” For example, not everyone can become the next president. Most people simply don’t have the skill set. And you probably should dispense with the notion that you’re going to play MLB or in the NBA. Very few possess the requisite athleticism. Likewise, the dream to be a pop star should likely remain just that, a dream. The number who have the charisma and talent is shockingly small.
But that’s ok. Here’s some good news, and it’s really good. God has made you to be uniquely you. Our Creator personally designed you with his infinite wisdom and care. Nothing about you is an afterthought. And he has given you particular gifts with which to serve his kingdom. Furthermore, if you’re in Christ, you never have to worry about failure. God loves you and always will, and has promised to be with you through all your ups and downs. Successes and setbacks. In fact, he sent his Son to die so that your standing with him could be forever settled. Your identity isn’t rooted in your achievements, vocational or otherwise, but in what Christ accomplished for you.
So … have no fear, graduate. Indeed, be bold. Serve Christ and his kingdom. Resolve, in the words of Jonathan Edwards, to “live with all your might while you do live.” Rejoice in your triumphs; trust the Sovereign One in your missteps. You may not be the next American Idol, but you’re already something far greater: A child of the living God. And no one can take that from you. Even if you can’t hit a musical note or a fastball.