It does not take long to do the math to know that it was 36 years ago that I left the secure halls of high school and into the real world. In fact, my “Senior Saying” was “Out of the frying pan, into the fire.” Thirty-six years is an eternity for those who are graduating from high school next week. My daughter, Grace, will be graduating from Walker High School this coming Friday. She is 18 years old and can’t wait for college. She is the baby in our family. She has watched two older brothers go off to college and graduate and she is more than ready to follow in their footsteps. What could one tell her and the other graduating seniors from Walker and the other schools? How does one prepare them for life?
Matt Lotspeich, our Youth/Recreation Minister here at First Baptist, recently shared with me three points to help graduates truly be successful in life. Each of these decisions you make will either help or hurt you in life. These three decisions are:
1. You must choose the right spouse. The person you marry can make you or break you. They can be a source of joy, encouragement and strength for you. Or they can hold you back. My advice to young people is to be mercenary in their choice of spouses. Don’t try to rescue someone who has bad habits or addictions. You are not bringing home a puppy; you are going to spend the rest of your life with this person. They will help you raise the children that come from this union. Find someone who shares your same spiritual values. Aim for the top. Now, that doesn’t sound very romantic. But life is tough. Get someone who can push you to be better and work alongside of you to achieve common life goals. Marry your best friend.
2. Choose the right career. I have often heard it said that I could do whatever I wanted if I put my mind to it. That always sounded really good, but unfortunately, it is not true. We are all created differently. We are gifted and wired in different ways. Find out what you like to do and go in that direction. My mother wanted me to be a civil engineer. She worked with the Alabama State Highway Department and admired all those engineers who built roads and bridges and helped design the vast interstate system that traverses our state. She could think of nothing better for me to be than an engineer. That was the last thing I was created to do. I was not gifted in that area nor was I inclined in that area. Knowing what you want to do in life may not be something you know right out of high school. It may take some years of trial and error before you find out what you enjoy. I love my job! I love getting out of bed and going to work in the morning. I look forward to doing what I love most. You need to find that position or career that matches your personality.
3. Get right with God. Of all the decisions you make, this is the most important. You see, God has created you. He has made you in His image and made you unique. There is no one in the entire world just like you. But, for you truly to reach your potential as a person, you need to have a relationship with your Creator. Why is this important?
You need to truly be a whole person. A person without a relationship with God has emptiness in their lives that they try to fill with other things. You never are truly whole until you give your heart to God. You see, God took the first step by sending His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for your sins. By accepting Jesus as your boss you can have a relationship with Him. You can have this relationship by admitting you are a sinner and you need a Savior. Commit your life totally to Him.
You need to be a growing Christian. You need to be dedicated to a growing relationship with the Lord. You do this by:
•Reading the Bible, God’s Word and practicing what you learn in your life.
•Praying and spending time with your heavenly Father.
•Being accountable to other Christians through a local church and small groups.
•Sharing your faith with others who do not know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
Here are some great books that I would recommend for any upcoming or recent graduate that can help them as they start this next phase in their lives.
•How To Stay Christian In College, J. Budziszewski, Navpress.
•How To Ruin Your Life By 40, Steve Farrar, Moody Press.
Graduates, your whole life is ahead of you, make the best of it!
Make the right choices and life after high school will be filled with great opportunities.
Dr. Dennis R. Culbreth is the Senior Pastor of Jaspers First Baptist Church.