What’s Wrong with Graduation Messages?

Well, it’s that time of the year again. The time of year when families and friends gather to celebrate the accomplishments of students finishing up a major chapter in their lives.

It’s GRADUATION SEASON!

I have attended several graduation ceremonies this year. I have heard the student’s achievements, successes, and accolades. I have watched as hundreds of students, from high school and college, have walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

I have also had the opportunity to hear the different commencement speeches and, unfortunately, I can’t help but feel certain angst from these messages.

The messages that I have heard have been that of happiness, prosperity, well-being, and hope for future success.

When I hear these positive messages being given to the students who are about to take the next step in their lives, I can’t help but squirm in my seat. I just don’t believe that these messages are what these students need to be hearing at this time in their journeys.

(Just so you know… I’m not being facetious. I am being completely serious.)

The message that should be spoken to these students, in my opinion, is not one that is wrapped up in a bundle of roses. Instead, the message would probably be better delivered in the “Help Wanted” section of the newspaper, along with band-aids, tissues and a bunch of ice cream.

Whether we are talking about high school graduation or college graduation, what happens next will not be easily done. It’s not just taking a single step, it’s climbing up a giant platform to reach the next level.

It’s hard and it’s going to stay hard.

The Bible tells us that we will experience hardships, trials, and tribulations as we navigate our way through this world. Some of these will be because we are followers of Christ. Some of these are because we live in a fallen world.

After a student graduates from high school, they either go to college or the step into the workforce. Each of these paths has its own difficulties that are greater than anything they have ever experienced.

It’s similar to college graduates. They no longer have a choice. They are looking at the difficulties of starting their careers and working for the next 40+ years of their life.

In all of these situations, there will be hardships, trials, and tribulations. Success, prosperity, and happiness are not guaranteed. Those who go to college will face emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual trials that can rock them to the core. Those who are entering the career force will experience similar adversities.

The full weight of their responsibility will weigh them down. They will learn about the new levels of exhaustion. They will be subject to stress, anxiousness, and pressure.

There will be times when it seems like all hope is lost.

But…

God reminds us that we will never be without hope, that we should rejoice in the hard times and never stop praying.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. | John 16:33 NLT

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. | James 1:2 NLT

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. | Romans 12:12 NLT

I don’t think that the message needs to be doom and gloom to these students on one of the biggest and happiest days of our lives so far. But I also don’t think they should be given false hope of success and prosperity in everything that they are about to encounter.

The message we should be giving these graduate students is the message that we receive in the Bible.

Yes, we will face trials. We will find ourselves in situations where our morals and ethics are tested and our physical limitations will be met.

Yes, we will experience hardships. We may get laid off from a job. We may encounter health issues.

Yes, we will undergo tribulations. We may get mocked and ridiculed for our faith. It may cause us to lose relationships, opportunities and so much more.

But…

We must remember that God is on our side and he has already defeated the world that we are living in. This is where we can find happiness, prosperity, well-being, and hope for future success.

The advice we give graduating students can be life-changing. Why don’t we start making that advice worth something?

The best piece of advice I have ever been given was during my college commencement speech, “Life is hard, you better wear a good helmet.”

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