Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
May 19, 2002
One night this week I met informally with about 35 adults, young and old, and asked them for their best advice for this year’s high school graduates. What they shared with me was so good I decided to pass it on.
The group of adults actually responded to six questions I posed, so I will share my questions and their answers:
1. What is the best advice you ever received, and who gave it to you?
One woman summed it up for everyone: “The best advice I ever received was to trust the Lord. My parents told me to memorize and believe Proverbs 3:5-6: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.’”
The best advice I received when I was 18 was given me by my pastor who said, “Walter, the Lord has a good plan for your life; keep on listening to Him and trusting Him, and He will surely guide you into an understanding of His will for your life.”
2. Why do you think it is wise to “follow your dreams?” All agreed that dreams can be deceiving so they must be tested to make sure they have come to us from God. No one doubted that God often does lead us by planting dreams within our hearts.
3. How valuable was encouragement to you when you were seeking a direction for your life? “My parents gave me no encouragement,” one lady said, “but my neighbors offered me great encouragement.”
Someone said that a teacher took her under her wing and helped her to believe in herself. I have never forgotten two teachers during my college days at Auburn who provided enormous encouragement to me.
Everyone agreed that Mom was the greatest encourager of all. Dad came in a distant second. Other encouragers were Sunday school teachers and friends. To my great disappointment, no one mentioned having been encouraged by a pastor.
4. What two or three people were “cheerleaders” for you when you were a young adult? Once again Mom won hands down in the cheerleading contest. Others named were grandmother, dad, friends, and Sunday school teachers. But again, no pastors were named, so my sadness increased.
I would have to say that my wife has been my greatest cheerleader. No one has cheered me on, through tough times and good times, like my sweetheart. Over and over again she has refused to permit me to indulge myself in discouragement.
5. What are the most important questions a young adult can ask when he or she is trying to choose a vocation? Here are the agreed upon questions:
a. What does God want you to do?
b. What vocation will give you inner satisfaction?
c. How much will your job cost you personally?
The group agreed that each person needs to choose a job he or she can enjoy doing. The least important question one can ask is, how much does the job pay? What really matters is how much the job will “cost” in terms of the sacrifice of time with family and other personal issues.
6. What is the best advice you could give this year’s graduates? One young man who is a college student said, “Find a good church. When you are away from home, and faced with many temptations, you need the benefit of a good church family.”
A father said he has told his teenaged son, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Young people will be wise to take a good second look at many of the glamorous propositions that today’s culture offers them.
A grandmother said, “Whatever job you take, be sure to give your employer one hundred percent of your time and effort. Don’t be a slacker.”
A college teacher stressed the need to establish priorities. He suggested this order: God, family, work, school.
The group agreed that life is a journey on which all of us are traveling. We owe it to one another to share what we have learned, and what we think, so that those on the trail behind us can benefit from our markings and danger signals.
Elton Trueblood put it this way: “A person has made at least a start on understanding the meaning of existence when he recognizes that every life is a pilgrimage, with many twists and turns.”
The good philosopher also said, “What is most attractive about the entire conception of life as a journey is the widespread realization that no man walks alone. Others walk with us now, encountering some of the same problems as they proceed, and many others have trod the same general path in earlier centuries.”
Dear graduates of 2002: help yourself to all or any of this advice that seems wise to you, and begin now to make careful notes along the way. Sooner than you realize, it will be your turn to leave sage advice for the young.