This past weekend my Facebook news feed was filled with family and friends congratulating graduates, especially high-school seniors. When I was a youth minister, celebrating our seniors was one of may favorite events in the year. Rarely in life do people make opportunity to simply heap blessings on those we love. Each year, as I was listened to friends and family members share memories, stories, and blessings, I was reminded of the previous students I’ve been blessed to know over the nearly two decades I spent working with teenagers. Over that time some of those students have succeeded spectacularly and others have flailed to the same degree. After having witnessed both the ups and downs of the post-high school years, this is my advice for all graduating seniors:
- Become. Don’t Look. Over the next several years many of you will be looking for a spouse. You probably have a working list of what you’re looking for, even if you haven’t written it down. Rather than look for someone who fits the bill, spend your time becoming the kind of person who fits that bill. 1 Corinthians 11 is a good place to start. There is no “right person” out there! You’re looking for the “right kind of person.” If you become the right kind, you’ll attract the right kind of person.
- There Are Plenty of T-Shirts. Don’t fill-out a credit card application because they’re giving away a free T-shirt! At some point, a credit card company will stop by your campus and offer you a free t-shirt or key chain or some other non-essentail item in exchange for you “filling out” an application. You’ll tell yourself, “I’ll get the shirt and never use the card.” Whatever! They know you’ll use it. That’s why they’re there. While you’re at it, start to think wisely about your money. Take a personal financial management class while you’re in school. Learn now to give away 10-15% of your income to your church, save 10%, and live on the rest. It’ll never be as easy as it is now.
- You Don’t Need A Break. I’ve had countless friends and students who decided that since they were in college or professional school, or, heck, just because they were young, it was a good time to take a break from spiritual formation and church life. Wrong! It’s the worst time. Now is the time you’ll form lifelong friendships, likely find the the person you’ll marry, and concretize habits that you’ll keep for the rest of your life. You don’t want to try to reignite your faith at 25, 30, 35 or 40 and wake up with a spouse who is unsupportive and friends who refuse to help you. You’re too young to need a break from anything.
- Study & Work Hard. When you’re in school you think studying is a low priority, but absolutely no one you know who is successful in life and relationships or is spiritually mature will ever tell you that they studied and work too much in college. Going to class, reading the material, and maximizing your time are investments you’re making in your family and your future. Your professors will become your first references and your classmates will be in positions to help you the remainder of your career and life. Plus, work and working is a spiritual commitment. Do it as unto the Lord.
- Become A Giver. You must enter life knowing that your gifts and talents are for the benefit of others. Learn now to give your presence, your time, and your money. Find a non-profit, a ministry, or a charity that makes more demands on you than you think you can bear, and cheerfully give yourself away.