Wisdom For Graduates

What do you say to a graduate other than I'm proud of you? Here are 6 pieces of wisdom for graduates straight from the Bible and the "school of life."

In recent years, I’ve had the great pleasure to be part of a family that celebrates graduations, and every time I’m full of pride for that child.  I didn’t do anything to help get them there.  If anything I’m the strange uncle in the family.  However, there is always a time during the graduation party or some time after that I congratulate our family member, and I want to have words of wisdom that will help them conquer life.   The only thing I can come up with is, “I’m proud of you.”

However, if I had more time to collect my thoughts, I might suggest the following. Read your Bible. It has all the wisdom anyone needs. Here are 6 words of wisdom from the Bible that I wish I knew (and took heed of) after graduating.

You’re A Child Of God

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.Ephesians 1:5 NLT

One of the most important questions a person can get an answer to is who they are.  The big identity question is tied to the words, “whose they are.”  Whether you had amazing parents or not, there is often a God shaped hole in your life.  Often we try to fill that hole with things that don’t bring us life.  What fills that hole is accepting the adoption that Christ offers.   God is Father to the fatherless (Deut. 10:18, Psalm 69:5) and wants you to know that He loves you.   Whose are you?  God’s.

When you accept Jesus, you accept the adoption into the family.  No matter what your family life was like, you’re now part of His family.   While humans will consistently fail and disappoint you, God will always be there for you.

Let Jesus Guide You

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.Psalm 37:23 NLT

Assuming you accept the adoption to the family, you have to actually let your Heavenly Daddy lead.  He will guide you.   He will speak to you, first through His Word but also through others and sometimes directly.  The key is that you have to be looking for Him.

You might wonder why you have to seek Him so hard.  I’ve often thought about this myself.   Now that I’m a parent, I can see a few answers to this.  If you think about someone following you around and giving you the advice, you can quickly see how annoying that could be.   We might say we want God to do that and it’d be pretty amazing since we can trust every answer He gives us.   However, I’ve found that God will never force Himself on you.   Therefore, you have to seek Him.

The other part of this is that I think God wants us to seek Him so that we value the answer He gives.  Almost every parent has had the experience of buying something pricey for their children only to have it ruined or unused.  The recipient of the gift didn’t value what was given.  However, when that same person saves up for something, they treasure it.  I think God understands this and wants us to put forth the effort in order to value what was given.

Embrace His Slowness

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.Psalm 27:14 NLT
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.2 Peter 3:9 NLT

Along the same lines of His guidance, you must be ready to be patient.  In regards to God guiding us and being slower than we want, I’ve written before about this, God has us on street view. He wants us to be still and wait on Him. He gives us foot steps, not road maps. He gives us limited information and when He delivers the next step, it might be an excruciatingly long time to wait. God has eternity.  You have a blip in history.  It makes sense that you’d want to do as much as you can in the short time we have, but God doesn’t see it that way.   He’s preparing you for an eternity with Him.  If something takes longer than you want it to, just know it’s part of the much longer eternal plan.

Never Make Decisions for Short Term Satisfaction

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.Psalm 37:23 NLT
Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.Proverbs 21:5 NLT

The biggest mistakes that I’ve made are often not following the advice above.   I’ve chosen short term gratification over long term reward many times and found out it’s not worth it in the long run.

For high school graduates, this conversation could encompass everything from deciding which college to go to (or whether to go to college at all) to pre-marital sex.  Making decision for the now is often the recipe for more trouble later.

An easy example to point to is credit card debt.  If you plan to attend college, one of the first things that will be pushed on you will be credit cards.   Often you can get a snazzy free t-shirt for filling out an application and getting access to a credit card.   As soon as you’re approved, you can buy anything you want and pay for it later.  This mentality can lead to a mountain of debt and heartache later.

When you feel like you got to have it, wait a day.  Whether it’s a desired moment of physicality or the newest fashion trend, wait.  Pray about it and sleep on the decision.  Often things that we want in the moment are being driven by emotions and not by what God wants for our life.   Learn to ask yourself, “Is this the wise thing to do?”

It’s OK if Things Don’t Work Out Like You Planned.

And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.Romans 8:28 NLT

Let’s say you blow it.  You pick the wrong major, you fail out of college, you spend a night in jail or perhaps start a new family in your teens – life is not over. God can use you wherever you are.  Sometimes our mistakes become our greatest testimonies.  Sometimes our hardships shape us into a better person.  “Sometimes” happens every day with God in our life.  While every mistake has a consequence, it’s not the end of the story.   The important thing is to keep God first and remember you’re still His loved child!

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.John 16:33 NLT

Greatest Leadership Trait:  Humility

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.Colossians 3:12 NLT

It wouldn’t be advice from me without something related to leadership.   The only way you’ll be able to keep God first is to remain humble.  Recognizing that His ways are higher than your ways is often tough.  If you’re experiencing a hardship, it’s often hard to see any sort of “why” behind it.   It’s at that point that you have to be like many in the Bible and say, “I don’t understand and I don’t like what’s going on, but You God are Lord over my life and my rock and fortress.”

If you can master remaining humble, I can promise you two things.   God will bless you and people will want to be led by you. Humility is the most influential of leadership characteristics.  It’s what embodies the term servant leader, and it’s the cornerstone of being a kingdom driven leader. If you can maintain a spirit of humility with a teachable heart and follow God, you’ll be a success no matter what you do or where you are.



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