Graduation Day for Year 12 is a special day. Not only for the students who have put in the hard work over the years, but also for their parents and teachers who have supported them throughout their schooling journey. It is a significant celebration for our whole school community and a wonderful opportunity for our younger students to see the final results of the successful schooling journeys of our graduating class.
My address at this week’s Graduation Ceremony is not just relevant to our graduates but to the whole school community. In case you were not able to attend the Celebration, here is my address to Year 12. I hope you enjoy it, and that you have a wonderful break over the school holidays.
My Top Ten List for the Graduating Class of 2019
I know that throughout your time at Cedars you have received an education, but I trust that you have achieved more than just the accumulation of knowledge. I hope that we, as teachers, taught you how to think. The metacognitive process (thinking about thinking) is an important one. When you come across an opportunity in life or a problem to face – think before you act! We have taught you that there are many ways in which people view the world and a lot of influences on the way we think. So, make sure you are thinking about your thinking.
The Bible puts it this way:
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2
Once you have thought, then you need to act! The world has an abundance of people who sit and think and then do nothing but criticise others. We even have TV shows like Gogglebox that celebrate this. Be someone who acts. Have a go! Put yourself out there. Anything in life worth having, actually requires you to pursue it.
I like what Dr Zuess says on this subject:
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” – Dr Zuess
Don’t just sit on the couch.
The Bible puts it like this:
“Faith without works is dead.”- James 2: 14-26
You have got to put the work in. Action is required!
- Don’t do it alone
In today’s world, loneliness is a killer. Especially for men. Guys, you have to look out for each other. When you were at school you didn’t have to make the effort. You saw each other every day. You will now need to prioritise your friendships and make time to catch up. It is how you can keep each other healthy, strong and accountable.
The Bible puts it like this:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.” – Hebrews 10: 24-25
I do this by going fishing with my mates. It keeps us connected. We talk about big things and small things, the ups and downs of life and sometimes we don’t even talk at all. But we know we have someone there if we need them.
Generally girls communicate better than the guys. But girls, don’t isolate each other if things are difficult in your relationships. Stick together and work it out.
Don’t do it alone in your career either. Don’t back stab to get ahead. You will get further if you take others with you.
Stephen Covey in his book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ talks about the flying V formation of ducks heading south for the winter. The synergy of the team working together means they all get further and expend less energy to get there.
The benefits of doing life with people far out weigh the negatives. But, you will get hurt by people in life, and you will hurt others. Don’t live a life full of un-forgiveness, don’t hold grudges. These are the disgruntled people in life. You can spot them a mile away. Hurt people, hurt others. Don’t be one of them. This life on earth is too short for that.
The Bible has a lot to say on this topic. Here is just one scripture:
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Col 3:13
- Read the Bible
You are stepping away from a school that has taught you from this book every day. It is over to you now. You are young men and women who are making choices that will have an impact for your whole life and for the generations to come after you. It’s important to read the instruction manual.
The Bible puts it like this:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105.
Don’t wander around in the dark.
It is God’s word, where we learn about Him and about us. It is God’s big story and we all have a part to play in it.
C H Spurgeon says it this way:
“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible”- C. H Spurgeon
For my final act as your Principal today I will be giving you all a Bible. I want to know that each of you have one. I also want you to know I have highlighted some scriptures in your Bibles, but you’ll have to read it to find them.
- Be part of something big!
Whether it is your job or where you volunteer, be part of something big. Something with a grand vision. Something that will outlast you but have an impact that will echo through the generations. Serve there! Don’t do it for recognition, do it because it is a worthy cause. Let me encourage you that the most important one of those things should be ‘the church’ or the kingdom of God, or to be a part of the great commission. Don’t drop off from going to youth group or church. You will learn so much by keeping connected to the body of Christ. The work of the local church in the community will have a lasting impact – it did before you were born and it will after you die. Being an active player in the church will be one of the greatest blessings in your life, your family, and to the community around you.
Have a ‘Thank God It’s Monday’ mindset, not a ‘Thank God it’s Friday mindset’
I feel for people who struggle through their work week with no sense of purpose, just to get to the weekend to have some fun or relaxation. We should have a TGIM mindset! If we believe that God has given us gifts and talents. If we believe what the Bible says, in that He laid the work out before us and we can use what God has given us to do that work, isn’t that a spiritual thing? Isn’t that worshiping God? When you think about your work with that mindset it is difficult to find dissatisfaction in your workplace.
Paul Bartlett, author of ‘Thank God it’s Monday’ puts it like this:
“Whether they’re teaching school students, building houses, serving customers, checking the profit and loss statements, or taking care of the kids, they are serving God doing their job Monday to Saturday. They have a purpose to fulfil at work. Those five days could be and should be the most incredible, God-appointed period of the week.” – Paul Bartlett
- Be Humble
No one likes a show-off, a know-it-all, a big-noter. Especially in Australia. But people do respect someone who is humble.
When speaking about Humility, CS Lewis puts it like this:
“True humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.”- CS Lewis
We are called to love, not to judge others. Jesus says to love God and love others. I think they go hand in hand.
These lines come to mind at the breathtaking conclusion of Les Miserables as Jean Valjean is dying:
Take my hand, and lead me to salvation.
Take my love, for love is everlasting.
And remember, the truth that once was spoken:
To love another person is to see the face of God…
Or as 1 John 4:7 puts it:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” -1 John 4:7
- Be Passionate about Something!
The world is a better place because you are in it. Don’t let us forget it. Live a life of passion. Find that thing that you love to do and do it with all you’ve got. You know at Cedars we believe that those passions come from God.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
He has given us passions, hopes dreams and the skills to go out there and have a wonderful future.
So, there you go Year 12. Ten easily digestible tips for the future. They are not life hacks or short-cuts to success. There is no such thing. You have already had a long journey to get to this point. For some of you it feels like it has taken forever. For your parents, it may feel like only yesterday they were dropping you off to Prep, but I can tell you, over those 14 years you have come such a long way and have all the credentials you need to find success in this life. It has been a privilege for us at Cedars to have been a part of it and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for you.