It’s graduation season, and this is truly a special time for many students and families. Congrats to all high school and college students graduating this year.
These years are spent learning, discovering, failing, and succeeding. It’s the close of one chapter before the next one begins. As Christians, we are indeed called to celebrate these moments and victories. The years of hard work are something to be proud of that deserves a celebratory moment.
As we prepare for these celebrations, schools have been busy finding the ideal commencement speaker to deliver the perfect commencement speech to the graduating class. Usually, our grads will enjoy some thoughtful and memorable quotes to tuck away as they go out into the world: Stay true to yourself, follow your dreams, don’t be afraid to fail, be bold, and be courageous.
These are well-intentioned messages, even if not from a faith perspective. Such messages can encourage, motivate and perhaps help strengthen one’s character.
But, have you noticed that these messages of encouragement start to give way as they are replaced by the highly pressurized messages that the world churns out? One message that I see under Satan’s grip is our society’s unrelenting desire for worldly success. One dangerous message about success comes from a well-known and “successful” individual who stated it this way:
“Working 24 hours a day just isn’t enough anymore. You have to be willing to sacrifice everything to be successful, including your personal life, your family life, maybe more. If people think it’s any less, they’re wrong, and they will fail.”
This is the messaging our graduates will face out in the world. And this is far from the only misleading message out there. Such messages attempt to shake the foundation of our graduates, pull at their character and lead our graduates to chase after the hollow tree.
Look online, and you can quickly learn why this messaging harms rather than helps. And if our graduates want real success, this messaging must fall flat on its face. Real success begins in the heart. Real success begins when God’s desires become our desires and when we realize that our life is no longer about us. Instead, we become transformed to bear fruit that is visible to the world through our relationship with Christ. And isn’t that ultimately what our years of learning and study have been about?
I think Rev Billy Graham put it best when he said,
“People are the stocks into which we are to invest our time … the best of all investments you can make is to help people come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. You can make a commitment right here and now … I’m asking you today not to graduate but commence a new life for God every step of the way.”
Therefore, the most powerful way we can encourage our graduates is by pointing them to Jesus Christ. To be successful is to be in Christ. Along the way, we can pray for their endeavors and successes. We can pray for their endurance when they fail and meet struggles face to face. We can pray that their pursuit of success means that their eyes are fixed on Jesus so that they can one day hear the most pleasing words from our Lord, as the servants heard from their master:
‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ – Matthew 25:21
Congratulations to all of our graduates.