Tim Ainley, CEO of Forward Edge, recently shared an inspiring message at a graduation commencement ceremony that is a timely and impactful message for us all. But, especially for recent graduates, young adults, and teens, these words could be the guiding principles you need as you step into a world with a million different possibilities:
Read Part 2: You Were Made to Serve
Ok, here’s the third thing I wish I had learned at your age:
Let God’s will come to you
You know, at graduations, you’ll often hear things like this: Dream big, you’re going to change the world, leave your mark, you can do anything, etc. etc. But those are all hard for me…talk about pressure and setting yourself up for disappointment. They’re not very realistic.
And the “Christian” version of these messages is often veiled behind the theme of pursuing God’s will for your life, as if He had His plan for you coded in a puzzle or riddle that you have to decipher or solve.
Or like God’s playing ‘hide and seek’ with His will for your life and you have to go out there and try to find it. I’m here to say don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself.
Just be faithful with what you know and let God’s will come to you.
I believe discovering God’s will for your life is less about how much you flawlessly plan and execute, and more about how faithful you are in your response to the things you didn’t go looking for or plan.
When we look at all our Biblical heroes – people who have epic stories of how God used them…Abraham, King David, Queen Esther, Joseph, Daniel, the Apostles – what made their stories so great was not the strategic plans they made, but rather their faithful obedience to God amidst life’s surprises.
Let me remind you what Proverbs 16:9 says: In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
By all means, if you have ideas, plans, or dreams, pursue them! God very well may have given them to you. But hold on to them loosely and pay closer attention to what God is doing than the plans you want to accomplish.
I love my eight-year-old son, Gideon. And let me tell you, he’s got a lot of energy. Often times, if we’re on a walk in our neighborhood, he’ll run on ahead of me to wherever it is we’re going. And then I get bummed because I don’t get to walk with him and hold his hand anymore.
I wonder if, maybe, sometimes God won’t tell you too much of where you’re going because if He did, you’d run on ahead, and He wants you to stay close holding His hand.
If you spend too much of your time looking towards tomorrow, you’ll miss out on today. God has good works for you to do today. Right now. Not just someday later once you have your degree, your career, or your house, spouse and kids, or whatever it is you dream of having someday.
You can make a difference right where you’re standing.
Let me give you an example. My son Gideon, who I just mentioned, he’s in a group called Trail Life – like a faith-based boy scouts. A few months ago, a graduating senior volunteered a couple of hours to come and teach our troop of boys the fundamentals of basketball.
It was a simple act of service for this young man, and it really meant a lot to those boys.
And here’s another example. My wife and I had a surprise 4th child last October, and if you’re familiar with infants, you don’t really want to mess with their sleep schedule. Well, our baby Boaz takes a much-needed nap at 3 pm every day, right when school gets out. It was a real challenge for my wife Ashley, that is until another one of the graduating seniors volunteered to bring Gideon home from school. That may have seemed like a simple thing to do, but it was a HUGE blessing to my wife.
Don’t miss the opportunities in front of you right now, today, to serve.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, was famous for his pursuit of what he called “the state of indifference.” He didn’t mean pursuing apathy or disinterest but pursuing an indifference to anything but the will of God. Ignatius taught that the degree to which we are open to any outcome or answer from God is the degree to which we are truly ready to hear what God has to say.
So, I encourage you, graduates, make your plans…surrender them…don’t put too much pressure on yourself…and let God’s will come to you.
Read Part 4: Live to Be Forgotten