It has been my privilege to speak on several occasions at graduation exercises of different high schools. Some of these schools have been secular, and some have been faith-based. Invariably, I think of my graduation, which I captured in a blog http://dgcoker.com graduation 59, and reminisce about the importance and excitement of the event.
This past year I gazed out over the audience with 100+ graduates who were beaming with pride and ‘I hope this is short’ attitude, and moms and dads asking themselves, Is this happening? In these cases, I try to motivate and challenge these young graduates to be forward-looking while building their lives on a firm foundation.
So graduates, “What kind of soul will you have?” ( I wish I could describe the expression on the faces of the students and audience when I made this opening comment). “What kind of person will you be?” Will you do whatever it takes to get what you want, or will you accept even greater suffering to do what is right? It is this question you must answer, and your answer is the prime mover of your activity and will govern your behavior when you leave this graduation service. Think about it. Again, everything in your life will flow from your answer. Every time you decide or perform an act, you are making a moral decision. You see, Mom and Dad are no longer responsible for your behavior; you are!!
Additionally, every decision you make will have consequences, and in so doing, you are forming your character to become the man or woman you want to become. Think about it. You will be called upon to endure injustice, not commit injustice……Think about it. None of you would dream of worshipping at the altar of an idol!!
Furthermore, none of you would surrender the integrity of your souls, not for the whole world. However, these are the decisions you will have to make. Think about it.
Now that you are ‘ a graduate,’ and you are responsible for every action, you must realize what you become is not your parent’s responsibility. Beginning after this event, you are responsible for all of your actions. I am sure your parents have shaped your character to become an outstanding citizen. I am sure your school has prepared you to become the kind of man and woman that will move from this point forward. Nevertheless, now it is your turn, and if you become the person God intends you to be, you will succeed. Let me give you some suggestions to help you along the way.
First and foremost, uphold Biblical authority. Your world has been filled with books since the first grade. These books and philosophies contain contradictions, errors, and inconsistent theology. You must align your philosophy and view of life with that given in the Bible and only in the Bible. To achieve this philosophy and outcome, you must make this book your guide by studying its story, philosophy, and outcome. This objective cannot be achieved by “just reading your Bible,;: You must study it. I have some homework for you in your quest for significance. The Sermon on the Mount, located in the book of Matthew, should be required reading. I will go further and say you should memorize each behavioral concept as you embark upon ‘being all you can be.’ Make these principles part of your life. I have a challenge for you. Reading the Bible, beginning with the first book through the final book a challenge for you this first year after graduation. Pretend you will have a test for your knowledge one year from today.
Secondly, Beware of false prophets. It is hard to read a paper, listen to the radio or watch television where someone is not a proponent of false information. Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, I was frequently referred to as a bit “old-fashioned” or a ‘goodie two shoes’ for some of my views. This was especially true as I made my way through Graduate School at two of the nations leading universities. y My suggestion would be for you to spread the fragrance of goodness and kindness and leave the outcome to the Lord.
Graduates, if you become the person God intends to be, you will succeed by placing sunshine upon the earth.”
**This article is a brief overview of the original speech.