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Tips for grads: Find pas­sion, pur­sue ex­cel­lence, live righteously

120217johnmaurice

John Maurice

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By John Maurice
Columnist

Saturday, June 2, 2018

“Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 24:14)

It’s June and parents are beginning to realize that school is about to end for the year. Some parents are joyful, and others are fearful because their children are graduating as part of the class of 2018. Students, on the other hand, are mostly elated and joyfully celebrating the end of one era and the beginning of another.

So what’s next for the class of 2018? Jobs? College? Military service? Trade school? Marriage?

Some graduates have their lives mapped out, while others are trying to feel their way through unfamiliar terrain. But one thing is certain — the future is coming. Yogi Berra, known for his witty sayings, once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

For some, all of your dreams and plans may materialize. But others will experience twists, turns, and detours as they pursue their path into the future. What might be some things to consider as you walk across the stage of your high school onto the big stage of life?

First, find something to live for that is bigger than yourself. There are enough self-absorbed, self-serving, and selfish people in the world already. Find something big enough to live for, and to die for, to devote your life to.

The writer of Ecclesiastes sought meaning for life in pleasure, riches, work and knowledge in nearly every place under the sun. After his expansive search, he concluded with some great advice: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Scripture continually inspires humankind to love God and serve others. The commands of God exhort us to live with integrity and honesty, to treat others with love and respect, to be generous toward those in need, and to care for the less fortunate. Live to serve God and care for those who share the planet with you.

Second, don’t confuse success with a college degree, high-paying job, or financial wealth. Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates all dropped out of college. One bad day in the stock market can wipe out your investment portfolio. A new technology can make that high-paying job virtually obsolete.

Success is about pursuing something you are passionate about. Are you passionate about educating children? Are you moved to help alleviate the suffering of those with diseases? Do you have a passion to serve your country and keep people safe? Are you called to go to a foreign continent and live to serve as a missionary or to open an orphanage? Success and happiness come from finding fulfillment in your calling.

Third, pursue excellence. Colossians 3:17 states, “And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

There are lots of good teachers, physicians, mechanics, counselors, ministers, nurses, etc. But many settle for mediocrity instead of pursuing excellence. It is easy to be ordinary. Much more effort is required to be excellent!

Finally, seek to live righteously. In 25 years of military service I saw many careers, families, and lives ruined because of bad choices. Pornography, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, sexual immorality, dishonesty, stealing, infidelity and speaking untruthfully will bring a swift end to your upward mobility and derail your career aspirations. The lives of military officers, members of the clergy, business executives, doctors, educators, and politicians all have been derailed because their secret addictions and behaviors were exposed. Develop your inner life and grow spiritually.

I close with a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is the prayer I hope each member of the class of 2018 will pray: “Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.”

Congratulations and Godspeed, class of 2018!

Cdr. John W. Maurice, a retired chaplain with the U.S. Navy, is president of Mid-Atlantic Christian University. The opinions expressed in this column belong to the author and may not be those of MACU.

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