My Words of Wisdom to High School Graduates

In our culture, graduation from high school is the rite of passage that signifies adulthood. Your parents know this and they weep for the loss of their child; and they rejoice in welcoming you into adulthood. I’ve often said that there are three great milestones for parents in rearing their children.

The first milestone was when you learned to walk. This milestone signified your independence as a person. Even though you relished your new found independence and enjoyed the freedom of movement; you still often returned to the embrace of mom and dad. Getting your driver’s license is the next step of independence. But even as you became more independent, you still went home at night.

The second milestone was when you were potty trained. Every parent relishes the end of diaper changes. Most children resist this milestone, preferring that parents do the dirty work. In fact, you preferred that your parents continue to clean the various and diverse messes that you make. Even when you learned to take care of the personal business, you still wanted mom to clean your room, and dad to fix your mistakes. But the wise parent encourages you to take responsibility for your own messes.

The third great milestone for parents is when you get a job. It’s not your parents’ responsibility to care for you forever. It’s your parents’ job to teach you to work hard and take responsibility for yourself. Just like potty training, most children resist this at first. Self-reliance is scary, because you might fail. So, let me reassure you – you will fail. But, if you persist and work hard, you will eventually succeed.

Now you have walked, received your high school diploma, and have emerged as an adult. You have three life choices that will affect you for the rest of your life. First, you must decide each day to serve God, to make right choices, and live according to God’s word (Joshua 1:8). This will not make life easier, but it will provide a solid anchor in stormy times.

Second, what are you going to do with your life? What will be your vocation? Do what you’re good at, what you love to do. You have gifts and talents. Develop them. Be open to positive criticism. Get smarter. There are no short cuts to success. In all things, do your best, and be an ambassador of Jesus Christ.

Third, who will you spend your life with? Who will you marry? This decision will determine your happiness and success for the rest of your life. Marry well and live well. You must be willing to love your spouse more than you love yourself. The greatest benefactors of your wise choice for a mate will be your children. So, don’t be in a hurry. Get to know your future spouse well. Just as important, get to know your future in-laws. If you don’t like them, you will not like your spouse for long!

Finally, no one will love you like your parents. No one else will put up with your messes, with your whining, or with your irresponsibility. No one cares about your excuses. You’re an adult now. Suck it up and go to work.