Last Saturday, GCS graduated its largest class in school history, sending out 92 seniors to impact the world for Christ. The following is my graduation charge:
It’s my privilege to be the last voice you hear as you leave Grace, to give you your commencement charge.
You may not remember this, but I spoke at your 5th grade graduation in 2008, when you were halfway through this journey you’ve finished now. I went back and looked at my speech. Here’s what characterized your class back then: “when y’all where in kindergarten, Mrs. Luce said that one of the things that stood out to her that was different than other classes she had seen is that you were deferential to each other….you were respectful and cared for each other. You looked after each other. Even at five, you followed Christ’s command that you love one another.” We saw it in you when you were kindergartners, when you were fifth graders, and now. It’s what makes you one of the the strongest senior classes we’ve had since I’ve been here. You’ve led this school well. I want to thank you for that.
And, I want to thank your moms and dads for the joy, the gift, of getting to raise our kids together, alongside you. You have been a constant source of love and encouragement for Ashley and me. You have been our friends, our co-laborers, and we are grateful.
I think I speak for every parent of the Class of 2015 when I say a grateful thank you to the teachers and administrators of GCS for selflessly pouring into the lives of our children, shaping and molding them into who they are now. We’ll never be able to repay you, and we will always be grateful.
You’re special to me. Because I have a graduate among you, and have watched you grow up, I have felt, in many ways, as a backup father to you through the years. So, my charge to you will be ten pieces of fatherly advice that will go to college and beyond:
- Do courageous things– courage is a muscle. It gets stronger by frequent use. Cowards and heroes both face fear. Your Lord faced fear. How you face it will define you.
- Work harder than anyone else– you have been equipped at this school to thrive in college. You have all of the spiritual, emotional, and academic tools, stacked like kindling at your feet. God created us for work, and wants us to take pleasure in it. Work isn’t a means to an end. Work because it is a good thing in its own right, and it’s what you were created to do.
- Find your people– you will become like those with whom you surround yourself. The Christian life is not like golf; it’s a team sport. The first thing you need to do when you get to school is find your people. People who believe like you do, who will hold you accountable, people like the people sitting around you right now. This deal you read so much about your faith surviving college is a crock. Your faith is not designed to survive, it’s designed to be jet fuel that races through your veins, that through the fire of the Holy Spirit empowers you to be greatness and grace and mercy and truth on college campuses across this nation, and in the world beyond it. That’s who you are. That is your legacy. Finding your people is the first great step in making that happen.
- Make sure you correctly use an apostrophe with the letter “s.” “Irregardless” is not a word. You don’t “revert back,” unless you’re not reverting anywhere. The saying is not “I could care less.” It is: “I could NOT care less”; never use the word “like” in a job interview unless you’re making a comparison or expressing an affinity for something. By the time you graduate from college, your family will have spent between $150K and a quarter of a million dollars on your education. You should try to sound like it.
- Everything Counts. Everything matters. The most significant things that will ever happen to you will happen in the middle of a perfectly normal day, and they will change your life forever. That’s why it is in your best interest to live each day passionately. You just never know.
- Sin is fun. Like Claire’s dad told me the other day. It would be easy to resist if it wasn’t. You’ll now have more opportunity than ever. The problem is that, over time, it requires more and more from you for less and less excitement and reward. In the end, it takes everything from you and gives you nothing in return. Ask anyone who’s addicted to anything, or anyone. Bad trade.
- Oh, yeah– one more: Don’t use the word “literally,” then speak figuratively. That doesn’t make any sense, either.
- There are two great pursuits in life: holiness (which requires work and sticking to it, and dying to yourself) or day-to-day happiness and trying to get your needs met. If you shoot for holiness, you’ll be amazed at how much joy and contentment you’ll get. If you aim for day-to-day happiness, you’ll get none of it. Your choice.
- Live open-handed lives. Let all of your resources, your time, talents, and money, anything you have to be used by God for the benefit of others at any time. Let it all be available to Him, and you’ll live richer lives than you could ever have imagined.
- In the 18 years we were raising you, I’ve married students, and I’ve buried them. Some you knew. They never thought they’d be with Jesus quite this quickly as they sat here. Those who now are have taught me that, although it’s good to be prepared for college, it’s better to be prepared for eternity- all this has all been about preparing you for eternity. Live with eternity in mind. Life is too short-term a goal.
Your teachers, your moms and dads, and I love you. Romans 12:1, your class verse, is correct: your bodies are living sacrifices. They are your spiritual act of worship. You will live life as worship- of someone or something. Live it as one who worships Jesus, and you will live it well.