Graduation season is upon us. It’s that time of year in which students dress up in long robes and wear flat-top hats, waiting to hear their name announced by a school official. Once they hear their name announced, the hooping and hollowing begins.
But before that magical moment takes place, the graduates and their families have to endure a speech. The speaker is usually someone the graduates have never heard of. The speaker understands why he has been invited. The speaker understands he is to inspire the graduates with real pearls of wisdom. Sadly, if a survey were taken the week after graduation, few would be able to recall any of the speaker’s nuggets of wisdom. Neither would they be able to remember his name.
Sad, isn’t it?
In spite of the desire of the graduates and their families, I believe graduation speakers can say things that stick and graduates remember.
Sir Winston Churchill was asked to deliver a commencement address. Following an introduction, he toddled to the podium, looked at the audience and said, “Never give up.” He sat down. Following a brief but uncomfortable moment of silence, he rose from his seat and returned to the podium. Again, he looked at the audience and said, “Never give up.” With those few words, he concluded his commencement address. Don’t you wish your child’s graduation speaker could be that brief?
Churchill understood that there is more power in few words than many. When you think about some of the most meaningful addresses ever delivered, most are remarkably brief. Jesus was the master of brevity. Consider His reply when asked, “Master, what’s the greatest of all commandments?”
“Jesus answered, ‘You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all of your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
Jesus boiled down the gospel message in a manner that any follower could understand and remember. Graduates would do well to hear Jesus’ word as they embark upon their lifelong journeys of learning and growing. Loving God with all of one’s heart, soul and mind are acts of dedication to one who is worthy of our best.
In addition to Jesus’ words, I hope they will remember Churchill’s advice to “never give up,” especially when life gets messy or careers do not develop as planned.
The Rev. Wayne Wike is senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Laurinburg. Reach him at [email protected]