Dear Graduate

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Dear Graduate,

I must, of course, start with a huge congratulations! All the projects are done. The homework is handed in, the presentations are over, the grades are finalized, and you did it! That is huge, and it’s worth celebrating!

I know this is where all the emotions start to come into play. You are so relieved and so excited and so overwhelmed. You’re grateful and sad and nervous and confident, all at the same time. And that is okay.

You’ve been asked, “What’s next?” more times than you can count, and while everyone means well, you’re ready to be in the “next” phase instead of just thinking about it. I get it. We all do.

But here’s what I want to remind you. Here’s where I want to cheer you on:

As you step into the post-grad life, you’ll be tempted to look at what’s in front of you from the world’s view. The world will tempt you to look at results by its standards, but God's result has always been faithfulness. Doing small things well just isn’t as sexy. The world wants measurable results. God moves through faithfulness.

I once heard the story of Billy Graham speaking to some his supporters and staff at BGEA. He said, "I think there are some of you in this room who will receive a greater reward in heaven than I will." When met with skeptical looks from the listeners, he said, "God cares about your faithfulness, not your fruitfulness."

You see, measuring results is part of doing your work with excellence. Productivity and the privilege of seeing fruit from your labor, whatever it may be, is truly a gift. But promotions at work and quests for adventure and building companies or ministries, albeit honorable pursuits, make really ugly, empty idols.

Friends, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

A spotlight will never fulfill you. So don’t seek it. Most of the greatest work on earth happens with nobody watching. You will miss the most meaningful work if you are fighting to be seen. Do small things well.

Who you are is more crucial than what you do. Obedience trumps calling. Do the work in front of you; don’t wait for a magical passion to drop into your life. I found my passions by doing a lot of things I wasn’t passionate about. And my character was built in the search--there never seems to be a perfect destination. Even when you find and do what you love, it turns out it is still just a lot of work. Enjoy the work in front of you--don't keep trying to get to the next thing.

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Dream, but hold those dreams loosely. I never could have imagined the places I would be today, but to get to this place where I am doing something I love and care about, I had to let go of nearly every plan I had as 20-year-old. If God is going to surpass your dreams, you have to let Him.

In a world of self-promotion--promote everyone else. If you put yourself somewhere you have to keep yourself there. If you lift up everyone around you, you get to relax and enjoy people’s success, rather than fight them for it.

The fruit that lasts comes from faithfulness, so seek first HIS Kingdom. That’s the life that’s most rewarding.