It’s graduation season which means it’s time for graduation speeches. Many of them sound the same. “Pursue your dreams!” “Don’t ever give up…EVER!!!” And of course, Winston Churchill is quoted often using a quote from a graduation speech he gave in 1941. “Never give in,” he said. “Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
The similarity in each one is really okay with me however. Granted, there are a few speeches each year that are noted for their peculiarity (consider Joss Whedon’s speech to Wesleyan University where his opening was “What I’d like to say to all of you is that you are all going to die.”). But even in the ones that seem strange, the message continues to be one of inspiration. And rightly so.
I’ve never been asked to give a graduation speech. And if I am ever asked, I’m not sure what I would say, but it would be short. I realize that people who attend a graduation are not that interested in the graduation speaker. They want to see their son, daughter, grandchild, brother, sister, or friend walk the stage. I would not want to delay that process any longer than necessary.
However, though I have not given a graduation speech, I have spoken several times to high school graduates in a church setting. “Senior Sunday” is fairly popular in churches where I live and I’m glad it is. Any time we can encourage others to continue in the faith is a good thing. And “Senior Sundays” are those type events where we can do so.
I always wonder what to say at “Senior Sundays”, however. Or maybe I should say that I have problems finding what not to say. Since I work on a college campus and meet hundreds of high school graduates each year, I have a lot of thoughts, but I have realized that not everyone cares about the things I think they should care about. So what do I say? Well, this year, in order to be concise, I have come up with a list of just 5 things. Here they are…
Let THE STORY continue to write YOUR STORY!!!!
THE STORY is the gospel. It is the story that God created you for His love, by His love, and in His love. And that love never stops. It didn’t stop when Adam and Eve disobeyed. And His love is most evident when we look at the cross. It is by the cross that we see that God seeks us, forgives us, and reestablishes our relationship with Him so that we can once again be who we were created to be. This is THE STORY.
2. Remember that your faith in God is a journey.
Life is pretty daily. And it can also be mundane and even boring at times. But it’s all part of the journey. Your walk with God will be a series of ups and downs. There will be times when God seems so present that you think you can reach out and touch Him and there will also be times when you wonder where He went? There will be times of happiness, joy, grief, and disappointment. This is life on this earth. But continue the journey and remember THE STORY.
3. Don’t go it alone!!!!
Enter a group that will encourage, challenge, equip, strengthen, and spur you on to keep THE STORY central in your life. This involves attending church, but it’s bigger than just attending. It’s allowing people to push you as you walk through life. It’s about being discipled by others while learning to make disciples yourself.
4. Wherever or whenever you are, be all there!
It’s easy to keep looking to the next big thing. We must remember however, that life is lived in the “meantime.” It’s today!” What you are doing today, though it might be preparation for the future, is still a moment to be lived in the now. Don’t rush. Wake up to see where God has you. Remember to live in God’s Story!
5. Love people!
This was the mantra of my grandfather. He loved people! And others knew it. Love is the most powerful force in the world. It’s what everyone is craving. Everyone wants to be loved for who they are regardless of what they have done.
So that’s it! Pretty simple and probably not unique compared to all that will be said in the next few weeks during “Senior Sundays.” But that’s okay and good. We continue to need to encourage everyone, not just High School graduates, with these words!