William C. Sexton
St. Joseph, Missouri
During the months of May and June each year many young men and women graduate from High School and College. Such is quite an accomplishment, and each person who passes this mark should be the recipient of just praise. However, I would like to raise two questions relative to graduating and comment on another.
1. What It Means: It usually means a great deal to the young person graduating. He or she has successfully reached a high land-mark in fife. It means many hours of study, discipline, and a denial of some things that one wanted; and it means that each has done some things that he did not really want to do at the moment. Yet most can look back with a sense of appreciation and self-esteem that they have reached this plateau in life.
Possibly however, it means even more psychologically to the parents of the young person than it does to the person graduating. I am a father that recently saw his daughter receive her high school diploma. It is a thrill; it brought a lump into my throat. Five years ago I saw my son receive his high school diploma, and two years ago he received his Associate Degree from Florida College. Soon I hope to see him receive his Bachelor Degree. I find a sense of satisfaction, as do most all parents who have such experiences.
At times the psychological strength for the parents comes as the result of seeing accomplished in their children what they were unable to accomplish themselves. They feel that their children are having a better chance than they had. This is natural and good. God fearing and children loving parents always desire that their children have things better than they had.
2. What Does the Future Hold: Various things are in store for the graduates. Shall they use the knowledge and experience to serve God and their fellowman? Hopefully, but not necessarily. There remains the need to set priorities, endure self-denial, and properly evaluate and apply discipline. There is no assurance that each will do this. Very likely many will not.
One can be lifted up in his own eyes, also, feeling that he knows more than he actually does; feeling that he has more power than he does indeed have, he may act foolishly; feeling that he does not need to depend on God as in fact he does, he may live undisciplined. Likewise, one can set his eyes on material wealth, now that he feels that it is within his reach. Or he can set his eyes on political power, now that it seems within reach, and make that his first love. Yet another danger: he may feel that fame is his goal, and forsake reality.
We pray that those who are graduating in 1972 are truly educated: recognizing that God, the Maker, deserves and demands mans first and best! He must be placed "first" (Matt. 6:33). He must be allowed to govern the persons life and activities and direct his energy and employ his talents.
It is my conviction that only those who recognize the power of God and submit willingly and zealously shall ultimately be successful. Be thankful for all that you have accomplished, graduates, and be mindful that it is with Gods help that you succeeded. Remember, too, parents, to constantly pray for and exhort regarding their spirituality as you have their materiality. May all remember that with Gods help we can be victoriously triumphant on, that day of days; but without His assistance, each of us is sure to fail in the end.
3. Disappointments Relative to Graduating: At times there are serious disappointments -- both to the parents and to the graduating young person. Both may have labored with somewhat of a misconception. Parents who have missed an education may feel that if their children can have a high school diploma, they can face the world with a valuable product that will assure them a fruitful harvest. They may have overlooked the changes that have taken place in the world over the last generation, relative to education. What may have been a great potential a generation ago, may be necessary to barely survive today.
I have seen some disappointed parents: a few years ago in Kansas City, I saw a girt come to work fresh out of high school. Her parents were very proud of her, having labored under the misconception that with this high school diploma she would be assured a place in the business world. She came ill-prepared for the work that she was required to do, and she was terminated after a week. She expressed her sorrow to me -- mostly because she felt that she was "letting her parents down."
At times the disappointment comes to the graduate too. He or she has been laboring under the delusion that an education is the answer to all the problems of finding a job! May I never sell short the true value of an education; but may you never labor under the delusion that such is everything either. It isnt!
Yet there is another factor relative to education that concerns me more. As I have said, it is good for one to have successfully completed the achievement -- to get a diploma, be it high school or college. However, such is just one plateau in life. There are many mountains to climb. If education has prepared one to be a successful participant in lifes game, good. Yet, there is no assurance that such is the case much of todays education does not equip one to participate successfully in life. It appears to me, that some may even hinder one in such an endeavor. My point: understand that there are many types of education; some of what goes under the heading of "education," would be more accurately labeled "Propaganda." Beware! Know what you are graduating with, and from, also to! Remember your Creator, (Ecc. 12: 1). Be educated in His will and your duty (Ecc. 12:13-14).
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 27, pp. 7-8