This past week we celebrated baccalaureate and graduation for our graduating students at Talbot School of Theology. (Congratulations, graduates!) I was asked to give a brief speech at baccalaureate about staying faithful to Jesus after graduation. Sean McDowell summarized the main points of my address at his blog, and I offer his summary to you here. While these points are aimed at seminary graduates, they are true for any Christian graduate.
1. Take God’s calling upon your life with deadly seriousness, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
As disciples of Jesus, we have a sacred calling to make disciples of all nations. And this is a serious calling. But we must not think too highly of ourselves. After all, God even spoke through a donkey (Numbers 22). If we think too highly of ourselves, we may be set aside.
2. Arrogance, cockiness, and self-sufficiency are all counterfeits of appropriate confidence.
Proper confidence comes from the recognition of what God has called us to and trusting Him to empower us. We must recognize that we can only do things of eternal significance through Christ’s enablement. The apostle Paul encouraged believers not to think too highly of themselves (Rom. 12:3). We must guard our hearts against arrogance and cockiness.
3. Be careful of comparison, because comparison tends to rob the uniqueness of individuals.
Someone always loses when we compare ourselves with others. If we think we are better than others, then the other person loses. If we have a low self-image in comparison with others, then we lose. Comparison is a lose-lose game. Rather than comparing yourself to others, rejoice in your uniqueness and give appropriate appreciation for the contributions of others.
4. Live as though Jesus is coming back tonight; but plan as though he is not coming back for a hundred years.
Live each day of your life with the conviction that if Jesus came back you would be found faithful. But also live in the tension that we are called to be faithful over the long haul in order to pass on the faith to the next generation.
5. When you get hurt, be careful not to stop loving people.
Whether intentionally or unintentionally, you will be hurt by others. The question is not if, but when. There is a natural temptation to build a wall around our hearts to protect ourselves when we are hurt. But what should our response be when people hurt us? Love. There are certainly times to leave an abusive situation, but we must not allow our hearts to be hardened so that we stop loving people as Jesus did.
Congrats on the graduation. Now go follow Jesus!