The energy, the excitement, the enthusiasm is always amazing. Flashing cameras and flowing tears. Family and friends, some of whom have traveled great distances, anxiously awaiting the ceremony. High school seniors finishing their twelfth year of schooling, about to gain their independence. Excited teenagers all dressed up in their caps and gowns ready to make the rite of passage on to life’s next challenge.
Graduating from high school is a big deal. Seniors, congratulations!!
Graduation is a time of celebration. It is a time to stop and look back and a time to stop and look forward. It is a time of change. It is a time of growth. For each graduate, it is your most recent accomplishment, but when your days are through it ought not to be your greatest accomplishment. Your greatest accomplishment will come in the years ahead.
On a trip to Phoenix, I saw a sign painted on the side of a downtown high school that read, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events...It is from numberless acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.” The potential held within our seniors is limitless. Some will go on to greatness. Some will perform numberless acts that will bring about change and will make a difference. Both are important.
Seniors, be thankful to those who have helped you get here today. Be especially thankful to your parents. Write them a note of thanks. Tell them you love them. You cannot tell them you appreciate them enough. High school graduation has been made possible because of their efforts. You will not be able to fully understand their commitment to you until years from now when you sit in the bleachers and watch your son or daughter sit in his or her robe. Express your gratitude and appreciation now. None of us know how long we have on this planet. There will be a day when it is too late.
The time has come for you to leave your comfort zone. As a baby bird leaves its nest for the first time to test its wings, each of you will be testing your wings in the days ahead. The time baby birds spend in their nest growing is important, but the time in the nest is only preparation for the day when the bird is to leave. Birds were not made to live their lives in their nests regardless of how secure the nest feels.
You were not created to stay in your parents’ nest. Test your wings and fly high. You will be exploring areas you have never been before. Don’t ever forget where your nest is, but journey out and discover and change the world around you. You have a whole lifetime ahead of you.
The world needs your help more today than ever before. The world is out there just waiting for you. You graduate into a world that has never existed before in the history of mankind. Not only is your world changing with graduation, the world we live in continues to change. The fears and worries we are living with today are different than they were when you parents graduated from high school. On your shoulders rests a responsibility that has not existed with any graduating class before.
Our country and our world needs help more today than ever before. We will need strong leadership in the years ahead. It is up to you to determine the world your grandchildren will be born into. Be a leader. A leader knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way. Be a leader in all that you do. Lead by example. Be a hero to those who look up to you.
Seniors, with freedom comes responsibility. Some of the most important choices you will make will come in the first days, weeks, and months after you leave home. You will be choosing habits. The habits you choose to develop now will be habits that will follow you for the rest of your life. Your mom and dad will not be around to discipline you if you make bad choices. Your choices, be they good or bad, will bring consequences. Each of you are beginning with a clean slate. It is up to you to choose what habits you intend to put onto the slate. But once you create your habits, they will be hard to change.
Paul wrote in Galations 6:7, “A man reaps what he sows.” William James said, “Sow an action and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” In these days ahead you will be choosing what you will be planting in your garden. What will you be reaping in your garden? It depends on what seeds you plant. You can’t plant weeds and grow delicious fruit.
Your accountability is changing. You are moving out from under your accountability to your parents. Understand you remain accountable to yourself. But even more importantly, understand you remain accountable to God. There will be a day when you stand in front of God and are accountable to Him for what you accomplish with the life you live here on earth. When that day comes will He look down and say, “Well done my good and faithful servant?”
Seniors, make wise decisions. There is no right way to do the wrong thing. Remember your job in this world is not to win a popularity contest. Regardless of wrong decisions that may be made around you by others, stand firm for what you believe in. At the end of the day, you will go home with yourself. You will live with yourself for the rest of your life. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t be proud to read about on the front page of the newspaper the next day.
One wrong decision can cause you to have consequences for the rest of your life. If you need help in any decision, rely on someone who has been around many more years than you. Ask your mother or your father. Call one of your teachers. These people have wisdom from the years; wisdom you may not appreciate at this time, but that can save you substantial consequences in the years ahead. Take advantage of their knowledge.
Aim for success, but in the process you will fail regularly. If you are not failing regularly, then you will never be successful. The number of times you fail is not what is important, what is important is what you do next after failure arrives.
Don’t ever stop growing. I believe if you aren’t growing, then you are dying. Change is mandatory, growth is optional. To choose growth, you need to choose to stretch yourself and to step outside your comfort zone. Just as a rubber band is of no use until it is stretched, your life will not be of much value until you stretch yourself.
Continue on with your schooling. Attend college if at all possible. This is quite possibly the best advice I can give to you. Continued schooling will open up many more doors than are present in your life today.
You are unique, the first of one edition. There are over seven billion people on this planet and only one you. Remember God made you special. He danced the day you were born. He knew this time would come in your life. He is dancing again.
My challenge to you is to be the masterpiece you were created to be. Develop every ounce of potential you have been given. Step outside your comfort zone. Go out there and lead. Bring about change. In your life, bend history for the better. Wake up each day with a passion to make a difference.
Seniors, recognize God has a plan for your life. In the Bible at Jeremiah 29:11 we are told “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Follow God’s plan!
Just a thought...
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to email@example.com or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.