Advice for Our 2023 Graduates

Advice for Our 2023 Graduates

It was a joy to watch our youth lead worship on Youth Sunday. “Take a Little with You” is a great Woodmont tradition! I am very proud of all of them, especially our seniors who brought the messages. These young people are graduating and preparing to move on to college. I know their families are experiencing many emotions right now. Here are some thoughts to consider during this major life transition.

Change is inevitable, but growth is optional. Everything in life changes but we get to decide whether or not we will grow in the process. Those who are wise embrace change as an adventure, a challenge, and an opportunity. Relationships are the key to happiness. The quality of your relationships will determine the quality of your life. People don’t care how much you know until they first know that you care. Trust is the primary currency of relationships and is built over time.

Love your family, even when it’s hard. Build friendships on a regular basis. Pay attention to the people in your inner circle because they will influence you for better or worse. Learn to forgive. Forgiveness is not just a Christian virtue but a recipe for sanity and survival in life. If you don’t forgive and let go, your past will control you and wear you down. Forgiveness is a gift to others and to yourself. Everybody experiences pain because it’s part of the human condition. But the way we process and handle our pain makes all the difference. Pain that goes unaddressed will manifest itself in unhealthy ways. Anger is real but dangerous. Words can hurt. Pay attention to what comes out of your mouth. Think before you speak.

Attitude always matters. There is incredible power in positive thinking and we all get to choose what our focus will be. Criticism and negativity are always tempting and easy. Offer solutions. Live in hope and spread hope to others. Be a peacemaker. Remember that you cannot spread peace until you first have it in your own heart. Prayer and meditation are essential. Extremes are dangerous. The world needs more moderates who can get along with others. Civility has been on a rapid decline in our culture. Respect others’ opinions but maintain your convictions.

Keep faith alive. Faith does not mean that God will line everything up the way you plan but it does mean that everything will work out. Faith allows us to deal with the reality that we are not in control of many things. Live life one day at a time – not in the past, not in the future. The present is all we have so don’t take it for granted. Cultivate the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the litmus test for progress in the spiritual life. Live the Golden Rule. Speak up for those without a voice – the poor, the marginalized, the powerless. Do justice, love kindness, and maintain humility.

Find your own definition of success. Remember that money is not everything. It makes a great servant but a terrible master. Match your passion with the needs of the world. Be slow to judge others because you never know what they might be going through. Make love a verb and not just a noun. Don’t fall apart when you are criticized. Keep your ego in check. Draw the line between confidence and arrogance. Don’t forget to tend to your soul. Enjoy the journey that is life because we never know how long it will last.