Graduates, here’s more wisdom as you begin your next chapter

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Congratulations, graduates, on reaching the magnificent milestone of receiving your hard-earned diploma. You are now launching a new chapter.

You have before you a blank canvas on which to chart a course as you move along life’s journey. That’s why it’s important to choose the right course and make wise decisions.

You will receive many words of counsel. Humorist Erma Bombeck said, “When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’, it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”

Proverbs 3 records a conversation between a wise father and his son. This devoted dad pours into his son’s life the wisdom of God.

“My son . . . trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:1a, 5-7).

This input calls you to rely totally on God. Don’t move forward without God. Trust God and you’ll enjoy peace and fulfillment.

You have probably received enough counsel to write a book. If you do, also include these nuggets:

*Remember who you are and whose you are. While still living at home, if I went off with friends, my Mom’s parting words usually were, “Remember whose little boy you are.” Well, I wasn’t a little boy at that point, but she reminded me to remember my raising. I knew the difference between right and wrong, so do right.

Also, I claimed to be a Christian. I belonged to God. I needed to act like one of His children.

*Set your sights high and don’t let disappointment deter you. Be resilient when the road is bumpy. Learn from failures and persevere. Perseverance is staring down the temptation to quit and moving forward despite obstacles and difficulties.

*Choose your friends wisely and be careful with whom you run. “The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20).

Growing up, I often heard, “Birds of a feather flock together. If something happened when you were there, then you will be accused whether you are guilty or not.” Avoid “guilty by association” by being careful whom you choose to be your friends and what situations you place yourself in.

There’s much truth to the adage, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

*Every day decisions are important, whether big or small. The choices you make may affect the rest of your life: whether to participate or not, whether to give in to peer pressure or stand firm, whether to hang around or flee from evil.

Pastor J.D. Greear wrote, “One of my mentors in college told me ‘For most decisions in your life it’s not the big dreams you dream but the small decisions you make.’” (https://jdgreear.com/blog/show-friends-ill-show-future/).

*Be kind. Always. Everyone is struggling with something. I was travelling south on Atlanta’s downtown connector and noticed the iconic Corey Tower standing above the I-20 and I-75/85 interchange projecting “Be Nice” on its 2000-square-foot digital screen.

What a timely word for hurried drivers who sometimes show impatience and even road rage. Yet it’s a good word for life. Kindness does not show weakness; it shows a caring heart that considers others.

*Live with thanksgiving. A sweet senior lady I once worked with often told me “It’s always appropriate to say thanks!” She said it NEVER goes out of style to write a thank you note. Plus, we have so much for which to be thankful. Never take your blessings for granted.

*Cultivate a life of generosity. Be a giver, not a taker. Find ways to bless others. “The generous man will be prosperous and he who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:25).

*Continue developing your spiritual life. Never desert your spiritual roots and keep growing closer to God day after day. Read your Bible daily. Go to church weekly. Get involved in a local church in your college town. Start tithing now. Develop your prayer life. Don’t leave God behind as you move on to new adventures.

The big question is, will you apply these wise words to your life?

[Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, 352 McDonough Road, Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit MRBC this Sunday for worship at 10 a.m. Visit online at www.mcdonoughroad.org to view online worship options. Visit www.davidchancey.com to see Chancey’s other writings and to order his books.]