It seems like a lifetime ago. I’ll never forget that night that I walked across the platform, shook the hand of our high school principal, Mr. Sonny Day (yes, that is his real name), and got a piece of fancy paper in a vinyl cover. That piece of paper, in and of itself, was not worth too much. But it represented a ticket to greater things. For some, it was a passport to higher education. For others, it was a bus ticket to boot camp. Still others saw it as a means to begin a career. Most of all, that diploma was a doorway to a great big world full of great big opportunities (or great big disasters).
I suspect that different people in my class had different emotions when they saw that diploma. I remember a mixture of excitement and nervousness. One emotion that I don’t remember was dread. It never crossed my mind to dread what was in my future. I had no idea that we would be where we are today. While the graduates of this week have much to be thankful for and should be excited, there is no doubt a sense of dread as they look to the future.
The facts are astonishing. For teenagers between 16 & 19, the unemployment rate is somewhere around 25%. That’s the highest it has been since 1948. Another alarming statistic is that around 30% of young adults have become what is known as “boomerang kids.” These are young adults who have left home for school or work, but due to a weak economy and lack of jobs, they’ve returned home. Again, this is the highest number since the 1950’s. We also find that young adults are waiting longer to start families, stating economic concerns. It is not uncommon for young adults to date for five or more years before tying the knot.
What will this mean going forward? Some have already begun to talk about a “lost generation.” Though times may be tough, there is good news for God’s people. We should not worry about tomorrow. Jesus counseled us with wise words. Instead of worrying about the accouterments of tomorrow, we should be kingdom-minded people. Jesus said to seek first the Kingdom of God and all these “things” would be provided to you.
Therein lies our fundamental problem. As a culture, we’ve worked very hard to labor for things that really do not matter. The message for the Christians of the class of 2012 is to remember what actually counts. That doesn’t mean that you don’t look for a job or pursue a career. It does mean that as you do those things that you never lose sight of the main thing.
You see, greatness is a very tempting thing. The world will tempt you with greatness. That typically involves varying degrees of wealth and prestige. But there is another type of greatness that should be the goal of the Christian. Jesus said the greatest man to ever live was John the Baptist. John was not your typical picture of success – a homeless, eccentric evangelist – but he was great in the eyes of God because he did exactly what God had called him to do.
No matter what life holds after graduation, let Christ be your central focus. Let your decisions about your future be made in a way that honors the Lord. And no matter what happens tomorrow, seek first the Kingdom.
Congratulations Class of 2012!