Lessons to Pass On to Recent and Future Graduates (James 4:10)
We have just gone through the graduation season. Nationwide a lot of high school and college graduates are entering a world that will be much different from the schools they attended. This blog is intended to help prepare them for true success, meaning, and purpose in that world. If you know of recent graduates, please pass this blog along to them. If not, save it for future graduates.
What follows are five lessons all young Christians can benefit from learning before entering the world of adulthood. These lessons apply to both high school and college graduates. They are presented as if I am talking directly to a recent graduate and are based on James 4:10: “Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
STRIVE TO SUCCEED, BUT UNDERSTAND WHAT SUCCESS REALLY MEANS
You are about to enter a world in which most people define success in terms of money and status; the more money you earn and the more status you have, the more successful you are. Let me caution you against buying into this worldly view of success. Don’t get me wrong, I hope you will earn a lot of money. God expects us to give to help others, and you cannot give what you don’t have.
When it comes to loving your neighbors as yourself and aiding them in times of need, money comes in real handy. Consequently, I hope you will do well financially. I also hope you will achieve the highest possible status in your chosen field; believe me, being the boss comes in real handy at times. On the other hand, I pray you will never mistake money and status for success.
The most successful people in the world are those who consistently and faithfully serve God regardless of how much money they earn or how much status they achieve. The poorest man who serves God is a greater success than the richest man who doesn’t. The janitor who serves God has greater status than the CEO who doesn’t. When you are older and looking back on your life, you will realize the most fulfilling moments were when you obeyed Christ’s admonition to love your neighbor as yourself; not when you counted your money or strutted your status.
NEVER MISTAKE EDUCATION FOR INTELLIGENCE OR WISDOM
You are about to enter a world in which people admire formal education. They believe the more degrees you have the smarter and wiser you are. I want to caution you against accepting this worldly view of intelligence and wisdom. Formal education has its place; it can be a good thing, but never mistake it for intelligence or wisdom. There are a lot of educated fools in this world.
A person who is truly intelligent and truly wise knows that the Word of God is the book that takes precedence over all other books. A truly intelligent and truly wise person will be guided by God’s Word in every aspect of his life and will view the words of authors, professors, teachers, scientists, and other supposedly educated people through the lens of Holy Scripture. Too many people who are considered educated by the world pursued diplomas rather than learning. As a result, they attained framed pieces of paper instead of intelligence and wisdom. An intelligent and wise person pursues the truth not a diploma, and understands that the only unerring source of truth is the Bible.
CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS AND YOUR SPOUSE WISELY
Choosing your friends and your spouse wisely is of paramount importance. A lot of young believers find themselves being lured away from their faith because they choose the wrong friends or the wrong spouse. Unbelievers can be nice people from a worldly perspective, but always remember this: niceness is an empty shell unless it grows out of Biblical love. As a result, hell is full of nice people who rejected God.
You are going to meet unbelievers with whom you share common interests, whose company you enjoy, and who you admire for their intellectual or physical abilities. In fact, a lot of misguided young Christians have told me they get along better with their unbelieving friends than with their Christian friends. Unfortunately, this is often because their unbelieving friends tell them what they want to hear while their Christian friends love them enough to tell them what they need to hear.
I am not saying you should not have secular friends. Getting to know unbelievers is a good way to carry out the Great Commission by pointing them to Christ. However, do not allow yourself to become unequally yoked when it comes to friends or your future spouse. Anyone who influences you—intentionally or unintentionally—in ways that pull you away from God is not a friend. Don’t make the mistake of giving the enemy a seat at your table. Instead, choose friends who in every situation will point you to Christ, help you consult God’s Word for the answers you seek, pray with you and for you, and set an example for you that exemplifies the fruit of the spirit.
KNOW THAT GOD IS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN AND WOMEN
You might have heard that the Marines are always looking for a few good men. Just like the Marines, God is always looking for a few good men and women. My favorite Southern Gospel song explains what God means by a few good men and women in these words: Men who have compassion, who laugh and love and cry; men who’ll face eternity and aren’t afraid to die; men who’ll fight for freedom and honor and their friends. This is what God means by good men and women. My prayer is that you will be one of God’s good men or women.
MAKE YOUR LIFE COUNT BY WALKING WORTHY OF YOUR CALLING
You have been called by God to be one of his few good men or women. This being the case, my final lesson is that you make your life count by walking worthy of your calling. To make your life count, set an example for others every day that is a sermon, knowing that for some people your example may be the only sermon they ever hear.
By your example, honor God in all you do, show others the image of Christ in all situations, love your neighbor as yourself, exemplify the Christian work ethic, reach out to those who are suffering and help them, lift up others with your positive attitude, persevere in Christ when facing adversity, and learn to forgive.
Apply these five lessons and you will enjoy a life of fulfillment, meaning, purpose, and achievement; a life that will someday bring you face to face with Jesus Christ who will take you in his loving arms and say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com