If I Could Give the Graduation Speech…

I sat through my 29th graduation speech two weeks ago, when Abram received his Master of Arts degree from Columbia University.  They all have common themes:  we are proud of you; the world is scary; make a difference; don’t forget what you learned.  While the speaker droned on at Abram’s graduation, my mind wondered and I thought how I would re-write the graduation speech.

If I were the graduation speaker, this is what I would tell all graduates, whether high school, college, or graduate school:

  • Make your bed every morning. It starts the day with a doable accomplishment.
  • Put your dirty dishes in the dish washer, or wash them. In other words, be responsible for your mess.
  • You have learned something, not everything. Stay humble.
  • Never look down on people who didn’t get a diploma or a degree. I once tried to chisel off a nut on a tractor tire until Mack, a man who could not read or write, taught me how to use a wrench and a hollow pipe as a lever.
  • Don’t worry about making an impact; you will. The question is whether you will make a positive impact or a negative impact.  No one’s impact is neutral.
  • Treat old people with respect, even if they don’t know how to take picture with their phone. They had the great teacher, time.
  • You will have faith in someone or something. Check and see if it is worth having faith in.
  • In hindsight, some of the coolest teachers gave me intellectual junk food. Some of the dullest teachers taught me things I remember and use to this day.
  • Never go too long without an adventure.
  • Be still long enough to hear from God. What He says is worth hearing.
  • Every choice has a consequence. A voice inside you will tell you that you are the exception.  That voice lies.
  • Ask your parents for advice.
  • Real friendship takes more than alcohol and weekend parties.
  • One day, you will fall in love with someone you think is perfect. They aren’t.  Real people are flawed and messy… and worth being in love with.
  • Do something silly each week. It keeps you young.
  • Naps are God’s gifts.
  • People who take themselves too seriously get on everyone’s nerves. Don’t be that person.
  • At least once in your life, go to sleep under a tin roof when it is raining.
  • The issue is rarely the issue. Look for the deeper issue.
  • You are better off wanting someone or something you don’t have than having someone or something you don’t want.
  • Wisdom and strength of character count more than luck.
  • Money isn’t everything, but it is something. Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can (John Wesley).
  • People who believe they are the exception to the rules have painful encounters with reality.
  • The final verdict on your life doesn’t belong to you, or even to the people who love you. It belongs to a God who loves you more than you can imagine.  So grow your relationship with Him.

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