Don't be afraid to get out of the boat

by Todd Brooks

A busy May is winding down, capped off by the high school graduation on May 17.

One thing of note at this year’s Comanche graduation was the excellent valedictorian speech by Brooke Combs. I have been to more graduations over the years than I can count. Many valedictorian speeches have devolved into nothing but public thank you’s and inside jokes among friends. Combs’ words were an actual valedictorian speech and I made sure to seek her out after the ceremony to tell her that.

In my Facebook memories on Monday, I was reminded of the speech I gave at my daughter’s homeschool graduation five years ago. I have included an updated and shorter version as a message to this year’s newest graduates:

Congratulations on making it this far and best of luck in what lies ahead. As you move on to the next phase in life, there are a few things I would like for you to remember.

The first thing is to remember education does not equal wisdom. Some of the wisest people I have known did not have a high school education.

Seek wisdom in The Word and from your elders. Don’t be like Rehoboam, King’s Solomon oldest son, who when he took over the throne, heeded the advice of his young friends as opposed to his father’s older and wiser advisers. It led to a divided kingdom.

Let me refer to the well-known story of the Apostle Peter unsuccessfully attempting to walk on the water that we read about in the Gospels. Peter knew whom to call out to when he found himself in peril. When he started to sink when he got out of the boat, He called out to the sovereign Messiah and not his friends in the boat to save him. Know where your sources of strength come from. Know the difference between stepping out on faith and acting foolishly.

I am also going to give you some practical advice:

1 – You will discover that your parents and those of their generation and older are not as ignorant as you think they are. Don’t assume just because you’ve reached the point as both an adult and a high school graduate that you know everything you need to know. You haven’t. There will come a day when you will come to the realization that your parents actually knew what they were talking about and there will also come a day when you will hear your mother’s own words escape your mouth.

2 – Don’t let pride get in the way of asking for advice or help from those who have more wisdom. This goes along with the first. Your family loves you. Your church family loves you. They want nothing but to see you succeed in everything you do and they would never intentionally steer you wrong. We have all been through heartbreak. We have all found ourselves in financial binds. We have all found ourselves without a job or in a job we have disliked tremendously but could not find an immediate way out of. We have all come to a fork in the road of our life where we had to make a decision to go to the right or to the left.

3 – Be humble. Yes, you have reached an important milestone in your life and are to be commended for it. Remember, however, that there have been millions of people before you that have done the same thing. This year alone, you are joined by hundreds of thousands of graduates across this country. 

4 – Put your faith in Christ, not others. Don’t let the cares of this world interrupt your growth in Christ. Don’t let the relationships or things this world has to offer come between you and the relationship you have with the Father.

In closing, let me just say, don’t be afraid to get out of the boat. And if you do and you feel yourself beginning to sink, look to Christ as your source of hope and wisdom.