This weekend my oldest son (Luke) gave a short Baccalaureate address to my second son’s (Chase) graduating senior class.
As Luke approached the podium, I watched his younger brother in the same way I like to watch the groom when the bride comes down the aisle. Chase was BEAMING – radiant with joy and great expectation. And for a long time I thought my heart might actually rocket straight through my chest and out the three-story stained glass windows – not because Luke was now addressing a thousand people, but because of all the precious layers, depths, and surprising goodness of Love.
Here’s Luke’s speech, posted primarily for far-away family and friends. Thanks for all the many layers to the goodness of your love.
Good afternoon, and thank you for having me.
I want to begin by saying “Well done!”‘ to all the seniors. I expect most of you already have set your sights on the next exciting chapter of your lives, but I hope for a few minutes this afternoon you can pause and enjoy the fact that graduating from an institution like Lake Travis is an honor, a privilege, and also an incredible gift.
*Let’s give the Class of 2017 a round of applause.*
I have only a few minutes, so I am going to share four things that I wish I’d considered more carefully before heading a thousand miles away to the east coast for college.
This first thing is a simple word of encouragement to those of you who don’t have it all figured out just yet.
As great a job as Lake Travis High School does, and as helpful our parents are in trying to prepare us well for the next season, there are some things that won’t become more clear until much later on.
So if you don’t have everything completely figured out today; if it’s still somewhat fuzzy as to what you are being called to do and to be, please don’t panic! Because God knows what he is calling you to do and be in the days ahead. The future is not at all fuzzy to him.
God has already started something good in each of you, and He has promised to finish that good thing better than you could ever imagine. You may not realize what the plan is for you quite yet, but you can trust that God does, and he will reveal it to you in His perfect time.
For me, one finance class with an awesome professor during my sophomore year was all it took to point me towards the path I knew was mine to pursue. So I know it’s hard, but don’t fear that everything isn’t perfectly nailed down. Stay patient, and stay encouraged.
The second thing is this: Start to use the passions and talents God has given you, not only for yourself, but for the good and benefit of others.
As I’ve already said, God is calling you to be and do something uniquely good in this world. And He has also given you the passions and opportunities to do this good work.
Not all our gifts and passions are the same. Some of you are ridiculously smart at math. Some of you are incredibly generous. I know at least one you know hows to take apart a car engine and put it back together again in a single afternoon.
I have a brother, Chase (who is sitting over there), who is easily the most thoughtful and kind person I have ever had the privilege to know. He is uniquely gifted by God in this way, and I’ve learned so much from him.
Whatever your gift is, it’s exactly that – a gift! Don’t keep it just for yourself and your own advancement in this world. Give it away and use it freely and joyfully. That is who and what you are being called to be!
So begin NOW to think seriously about what God has put in your heart, and be thankful for the opportunities He gives you as you move out into the world. Because these are the exact ways He is calling and equipping you for the good and benefit of others.
The third thing I’d like to encourage you in is regularly examining your heart, especially in the ways you use your passions and talents in service to others.
Our Lake Travis community produces such bright and accomplished students who succeed at whatever they put their mind to. It would be hard to find a group of more excellent, talented graduates anywhere in the country.
And yes. God loves it when we use our passions and talents in true service to others. But what God loves most is not the kind of service that gets US where WE want to go in life.
What God loves most is a humble and contrite heart. God delights in the humble, small, and wholehearted acts of love and care we show to others when no-one is looking, or applauding, or waiting to give us a reward.
So take time to regularly examine your heart. Why are you doing the good things that you do? What are your motives? If no-one noticed your excellent and praiseworthy service at the end of the day, would you be upset? Would you still keep serving?
If God knows the plan He has for you, and if he is preparing you for this good work in his world, then everything matters. The smallest and most hidden acts of kindness are just as important as the big ones. Your service to others is really service to Him.
Finally, my fourth encouragement is simple: Travel as much as you can outside your comfort zone and make the effort to see new places and meet all kinds of people who are not like you.
While at Messiah College, I’ve travelled to Zambia and New Zealand, and this fall I will head to Panama with my lacrosse team. I wish I had more time to tell you how these trips have shaped me. Those experiences were formative, but you don’t have to go that far to get out of your comfort zone.
This year, during the lacrosse off-season, I would sometimes go to a Somalian refugee community and play pick up basketball for an evening. This activity really stretched me as a person and gave me an opportunity to learn from people that had beliefs and cultures entirely different than mine, often conflicting.
Who knew that a Somalian, Muslim community was only ten minutes away from my Christian liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania? Who knew the African men loved playing basketball with Americans? Who knew that I played basketball for three years at Lake Travis High School? And who knew that drastically different people could begin to build meaningful and lasting relationships?
Yes, exactly. God knew. God had started something good in me, even though it wasn’t always perfectly clear to see. And He has started something just as good in every one of you.
In closing, I know how tempting it is to leave High School ready to go out and grab all that you can in this life for yourself. I know this, because that’s just what I did! But I want to remind each of you of this: You have been called. And you are being prepared to be, and do, good things in this world – not for your own glory, but for the glory of God.
So go out with joy, confidence, and great expectation! Go out into all the unique places that God has already prepared for you. For He has started something good in every single one of you here today, and he will be faithful to finish it perfectly.
I’m so excited to see all that’s in store for the class of 2017. Thank you for having me.
And, oh! One last thing to never forget: Call your mom!
Peace to you and yours,
Kim, David, Luke, Chase, Titus, and Colvin