Dear “Certain” Senior, Who Is Excited about What Comes Next . . .
You have the date highlighted on your calendar: April 30! It’s almost here: graduation! The completion of your degree! Real adulthood!
And your plans are in place. You have a job lined up, or you’ve been admitted to graduate school, or your engagement is unfolding and headed toward that beautiful ceremony and the beginning of life together. Over the years, I’ve known many students who graduated, got married, and started a new job all in two weeks or less! It’s head-spinning but exciting.
As someone who grew up in church, I love the Christian tradition of testimonies. We love to hear about how God has moved in someone’s life. How He has called them to missions or ministry, or how He has rescued them from the depths of sin, or how He has restored them from abuse or mistreatment. God’s power is marvelous and these first-person experiences remind us of His might and mercy.
An effect of this, however, is that sometimes people feel like they are second-class citizens if they lead “ordinary” lives.
But the phrase “ordinary” carries with it the meaning that it is common, it is how most people experience life. They make plans and they execute them. They finish college and return to their hometowns. They plug into the communities that nurtured them and return the favor, nurturing those who come behind them. They become leaders in the very churches they grew up in, teaching Sunday school or working with children and replacing a retiring older generation. Oh, what a marvelous leading of God!
Sometimes we like to use Christian testimonies as “humble brags.” The bigger the sins, the better the testimony. The bigger the aberration, the greater the grace. I have had countless—and I mean COUNTLESS—students tell me that they have no testimonies, that they have sinned but not ‘big’ sins. They are called to be accountants and teachers and nurses and small business owners and police officers and not missionaries or pastors and they feel like they are somehow “lesser than” in their lives.
If God has led you in paths that feel certain and are unfolding according to prayerful planning, this is a wonderful blessing. Embrace the love of God and lead a “quiet life” (1 Thessalonians 4:11) that will cause others to note that there is something different about the hope and grace that you demonstrate in your life (see 1 Peter 3:15 and 2 Cor 2:11-13). Be the transformational leader NGU has equipped you to be and apply your leadership in church and in society (by finding non-profits to invest time with and support in other ways).
And if God throws you an unexpected curveball, see my note to seniors who are uncertain what comes next. God loves you and has prepared you for His plans.
I can’t wait to hand you that diploma in a few days. Don’t forget to keep us updated with your successes! We are proud of you.
Gene C. Fant, Jr., Ph.D.
President, North Greenville University