Dear 2017 Graduates

It’s hard to believe that another school year has come to an end and for most of the seniors, it’s a day that has been long overdue. You have been impatiently waiting for this day for over a decade now and here it is…finally! For many of you, graduation day signals the beginning of something new. A new chapter, a new beginning. For others, you are just licking your wounds from high school and happy that it’s all over. Whatever category you find yourself in, know this: Life is just getting started.

Up until now, you have spent more time in school than anything else. Up until now, you have had someone take care of you, make important decisions for you, and someone to tell you what to do and how to do it.  Now you get to take all those lessons, all those experiences and begin to put them into practice as you are now responsible for you. Your parents have spent the last 18 years molding and shaping you into the man/woman that you have become and now they get to watch what kind of return they get on their investment (no pressure).

This time of the year always makes me remember my own graduation and I still laugh at how naïve I was at that time. As much as I thought I was prepared for the “real world” the reality was I had no idea what awaited me over the next few years. If I could somehow teleport my way back to 2002, I would offer my naïve self some advice that would undoubtedly have saved me a lot of stress, disappointment, and regret(s). As awesome as it would be to go back in time via teleportation, I will have to offer my encouragement and advice to you class of 2017. Here are 5 simple things to consider as you begin your new chapter in life:

1. Cling to Jesus (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Your life as you know it is getting ready to change. Over the next few years, you’re going to discover that this world is broken. Friends are going to let you down. Situations and circumstances will come your way that will literally take your breath away. There will be times that you feel like no one understands you and there will be times you have no idea where you’re going or how to get there. Through all the craziness and all the questions, cling to Jesus. He will pursue you when you don’t feel like pursuing. He will love you when you don’t feel like loving. He will give when you can’t. He is faithful. He promised to make your paths straight if you’ll simply follow Him. So follow Jesus. Cling to Jesus!

2. Choose your friends wisely (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Over the next few years, you will be introduced to a lot of new people. Some will be beneficial and some detrimental. But one thing is for sure, all will be impactful. Determine now that you’ll not waste your time with those who only bring you down and bring out the worst in you. Surround yourself with friends that will stretch you in your faith and hold you accountable and build you up. You are known by the company you surround yourself with so don’t ruin your reputation and testimony hanging around the wrong people.

3. Guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23)

Guys there are going to be girls that catch your eye. Girls, same for you with guys. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME WITH LOSERS. A loser is anyone who only wants what you can give in a relationship. Don’t buy into the lie that you must “date around” to see what you like. Come on, that’s ridiculous. God has a beautiful diamond for all of you. Don’t settle for dirt. Refuse to compromise your standards for anyone. Your heart should be so hidden in God that those that seek to date you must seek Christ first just to find you. Guard your heart. Protect your heart. One day you will stand before the man/woman God has prepared for you. They deserve your whole heart, not the pieces that are left.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff (Matthew 6:25-34)

Seriously…life is far too short to get all worked up over things that you cannot control. Worry about today and I promise tomorrow will take care of itself. It will be easy to forget this simple truth in the midst of papers, exams, and more papers but don’t miss the sunshine today worrying about the rain that is supposed to come tomorrow. Determine to win the day one day at a time. When overwhelmed with the small stuff just ask yourself, will this even matter a year from now? I’ve learned that most the time it is a profound “no.”

5. Don’t compromise your character (Proverbs 28:6)

Yes, your parents all paid me to include this one! Hopefully, you all have taken the time to set standards for your life. Determine now to never compromise your standards…for anyone or anything. Refuse to put yourselves in positions where your character can be compromised. I’m going to sound old fashioned for saying this but it is so very true. Nothing good rarely happens after midnight. If you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, chances are you’ll do the wrong thing. Think before you act. If you must think about whether or not you should do something, don’t do it. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

I am so proud of all of you seniors. I have enjoyed getting to know you over the last few years and It has been an honor to serve the Lord alongside you. Take what you have learned the last 18 years and determine to make this world a little bit better. Stay true to yourself and stay true to the Lord and you’ll never go wrong. I wish each of you only the very best and know that I am here if you ever need to talk, cry, laugh, or scream.

Only the best,
Dustin

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