Dear Class of 2020…

Dear Class of 2020,

Grad pic

Graduation day, May, 2013, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, following graduate school.

While I’m sure you’ve already heard many words of advice in recent days, I hope you have the humility to listen to those words that are shared with you.  While sometimes the advice can get to be a bit much, just remember it is shared with you out of love and support and you can learn something from everyone.  Not all the suggestions will apply to you, but I hope you’ve learned to be teachable and will consider the words shared with you.  In the 14 years since my high school graduation, I’ve had time to reflect and the following is what I share with you.

  • Build your community – In a 2017 survey of nearly 48,000 college students, nearly 65% said in the past year they’d felt, “very lonely.” It is great to be invited into a group or to do something, but you must seek out and create your own community.  Give that bible study group, volleyball team, or chess club a try.  Ask to sit with someone else at breakfast.  Chances are good that person sitting alone scrolling through their phone isn’t as busy as they look, and deep down would appreciate the human interaction.  Introduce yourself, say hello, and you just might make a friend for life.
  • Get to know yourself – Spend time thinking about who you are and learn what motivates and discourages you. Consider what your passions and gifts are, ask those who know you best what patterns they see in your life that maybe you’re not even aware of yet.
  • Avoid debt – The credit card offers are likely already hitting your mailbox, and no, a credit card does not make you, ‘an adult,’ it makes you in debt. Debt will restrict your long-term opportunities and add stress.  Nearly 70% of Americans do not even have $1,000 to cover a basic emergency.  Don’t be fooled by your peer’s new vehicle, shopping spree, or daily coffee habits.  Chances are, that lifestyle is financed.  Save, save, save, and budget for the future.
  • Show up, every day – It is amazing how far you can get in life by simply showing up, day after day after day. Show up, sit in the front of the class, and ask questions.  Every day, on time.
  • Serve others – Find a place to serve and share your talents and skills. Give back to your community.  Maybe it’s mentoring a kid, donating blood, or coaching Little League, but do something!  Consider all those who helped you reach your goals and seek to share that with others.
  • Learn to problem solve – More and more people seem to just want ‘the answer’ or hope for a cookie cutter approach to daily life where someone simply tells them what to do. Don’t settle for this!  Use the brain the good Lord gave you and ask questions, read, study, and learn to problem solve.  The more you learn (listen to podcasts, read books, ask questions!), the more problems you can solve.
  • Surround yourself with people better than you – Find the people who are skilled in their field, who are more motivated than you, and have bigger goals than you. Those are the people to spend your time with.
  • Know what you stand for –What values will you stand firmly on? Where will you refuse to compromise?  Make those advanced decisions now so that you will not waver when the time comes.
  • Put on pants – If you want to be taken seriously, put pants on. Sweatpants hardly radiate motivation.

With graduation in the rearview mirror, your future has a clean slate.  Know that opportunity continually finds those who show up and work hard.  Work ethic, problem solving, and the ability to communicate can likely set you apart from your peers no matter which path you take.  And lastly, may you seek the Lord in all your do, and allow Him to direct your paths.  Matthew 6:33 says to, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…”  There is truly no better way to live life than seeking Him and allowing the God of the universe to direct your steps, guide your path, and reveal His purpose for your life.

Soar high, class of 2020!Itemized Categories

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