Most graduation speeches aren’t actually that helpful. The speakers say things like follow your heart, never give up on your dreams, and be the change you want to see in the world. Some of the things they say are helpful. But it’s mostly fluff. No substance. The same ole stuff people have been saying for years. Lots of words are said, but few of them are remembered.
So what’s some practical advice for Christian graduates? You can find some advice below. This list is not exhaustive. Just a few things that came to me when writing. I have in mind Christians who are graduating from college, but high school seniors and parents and other eavesdroppers are welcomed, too.
Some Practical Advice for Christian Graduates
1. Your twenties will (probably) be harder than you think.
My twenties were a lot harder than I thought they would be. The world says this is the best time of your life, the time when you’ll look the best, the time when you’ll have the most free time, and the time for you to focus on you before you suffer through a life with a spouse and kids. While I’m grateful for my twenties (still got a little more than a year to go!), I found them hard. Many can attest. The pressure from paying off student loans, finding and keeping a job, and finding good community again is difficult.
Change happens when you graduate, and change is almost always hard. You’re now in the real world. New job, new friends, new community. Brace yourself. Expect to suffer. Lower your expectations for your twenties. Don’t be surprised if things aren’t awesome.
2. Get out of debt as soon as you can.
I’m debt free. It took me six years to pay off my student loans. But I should have paid it off in three. I regret dragging my feet for three years.
Don’t mess around with interest payments. Instead of setting your student loan payments to the lowest amount, set it to the highest (if you can).
Many people your age overlook this step. They didn’t learn proper finances from their parents. Or they flat-out lack the wisdom and self-control and discipline and basic biblical knowledge about money and stewardship. As a result, they pang themselves with many pangs for a long, long time.
The lesson to learn here is to get serious about your debt (if you have any). Anytime you get extra cash, spend it on debt. Study what the Bible says about finances. Read a good Christian book on money. Be vicious about attacking your debt.
3. Don’t blame your mom and dad if life doesn’t go how you want it to.
Once I heard someone say that childhood is brutal. He’s right. The thing about this is that you don’t typically realize it until your twenties. It takes a long time to process the damage — whether minimal or significant — that poor parenting or bad experiences had on you.
When life doesn’t go the way you want it to go, you’ll be tempted to blame your parents. “If only they would have provided for me better, then my life wouldn’t be so miserable!” Resist this temptation. While it is certainly healthy to get counseling, express your feelings, and be honest about your hard life, you don’t want to become a blame-shifter. Don’t play the martyr. Don’t fall into the trap of self-victimization.
By the grace of God, you are who you are. Take responsibility for your own character flaws. When you wish you had different parents, you’re saying God made a mistake. But God never makes mistakes. Sure, you should create boundaries when necessary. But honor your mother and father and try not to blame them.
4. Change Your Definition of Success.
How would you define success?
Just the other night I was thinking about this. I’ve accomplished a few things in my life, but not as much as I would have liked to at this point. Discontentment can creep in quickly.
The world defines success in terms of money, social status, and accomplishments. There’s nothing wrong with these things, per se. But money and social status and accomplishments are a poor substitute for self-worth. Biblically speaking, success is faithfulness.
I thought to myself: As long as I stay faithful to my Lord, to my wife, to our family, and to my church, I will live a successful, fruitful life even if I don’t write books and have speaking engagements around the world. Faithfulness is success.
5. Give Your Life to the Local Church
Don’t try to live your Christian life on your own. God’s plan A is the church, and there is no plan B. Wherever you move after college, be sure to get plugged into a good, gospel-centered church. You can’t live the Christian life alone.
6. Embrace God’s Providence
So, what’s going to happen in your life? How long will you remain single? Will things turn out the way you want them to?
You don’t know. But God does. God’s Providence is one of the sweetest, most comforting doctrines in all of Christian theology. He is both sovereign and good. And he has already prearranged every single thing that happens in your life — whether good or bad, whether small or big — for his glory and your good. Embrace it. Trust him. Be thankful.
Well, these are just a few things I have in mind. If you’re about to graduate college soon or if you’ve just graduated know that Jesus loves you and so does his church. We’re here for you. Get ready for the adventure of the real-world. Following Jesus is costly, but always worth it; never easy, but always the right thing to do.
Congrats on graduating.
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