Stewardship of Life

Commencement advice for every day

Posted in It's Personal by Robert Blezard on May 26, 2010

By Rob Blezard, May 19, 2010


OK, graduates, listen up!

This is your big day at last. It’s time to get out there in the world and make a difference!

Pursue your dreams! Shoot for the stars! Aim high! The world is your oyster! Set lofty goals! The sky’s the limit! Let your vision be your guide!

But it won’t be easy. Work hard! Don’t be discouraged! Be diligent! Take heart! Fight the good fight! Run the race well! Stick to your guns! Be true to your values! Honesty wins out in the end! Integrity is its own reward!

But you can do it! So make a difference in the world! The future is in your hands! You are the leaders of tomorrow! The world is counting on you!

Across our land, young men and women are hearing commencement addresses full of hope and inspiration and promise. And yes, full of clichés.

I’ll be giving a commencement speech, of sorts, on Sunday, when my church confirms six youth in the faith. I will speak of their journey of faith, how God was with them at Baptism, and how at this ripe stage of life — as they are now almost done with the eighth grade – they begin in earnest their faith journey. Every moment, I’ll tell them, God will be with them, like a guide in their raft through all the through the whitewater rapids of life. It will be a good talk, filled with hope and inspiration. Oh, and probably clichés.

It’s the season of commencement speeches, and for much of the Easter season, churches that follow the lectionary have been reading Jesus’ pre-ascension advice to his disciples. Which is kind of like a commencement speech, when you think about it, except Jesus was way too smart to use clichés.

Whether it’s for high school graduation, college graduation, confirmation – or even a farewell speech to a class of 12 apostles, commencement addresses give us hope, wisdom, inspiration to live better lives. They put things in perspective and help focus our energies.

But why do we reserve this kind of advice for only once or twice in a lifetime? And then, at the very stage of life when people are least likely to use it? Change the world? Follow your dreams? Make a difference? Sure, but first, you probably want to (fill in the blank) get your own apartment … graduate from junior high school … survive persecution of Christians by Saul and the Romans.

It’s later we need that advice – when we’ve have been working for a while, when we have a little credibility, experience and perspective. That’s when we can better chart the way forward. That’s when it comes in handy to be reminded to dream big, work hard and have integrity.

In middle age, when our bodies begin to change and retirement is no longer way off on some far horizon, that’s when we really need to be reminded to dream. We’ve been so busy surviving that we may have lost perspective. Our looming mortality will force us to sit still, be quiet and pay attention. As singer Bonnie Raitt comments in her hit Nick of Time: “Life gets mighty precious when there’s less of it to waste.”

When it comes right down to it, every day is graduation day. Think about it! Every day we awake more experienced and prepared to follow our dreams than previous day. Every day holds promise, hope joy. We need to be reminded of it. We need a daily commencement speech. No matter where we are in our life journey we can remember Jesus’ words to every day graduates like us:

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Rob Blezard is a writer and editor for SOLI. Reprint rights gladly given to congregations and church agencies for local, nonprofit use. Just include this copyright notice: “Copyright © 2010, Rev. Robert Blezard, Used by permission.” Other uses inquire:

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