Today I get the privilege of participating in commencement exercises at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where I serve as Assistant Director of Doctor of Ministry Programs and Associate Professor of Counseling. It's a highlight of the semester. Watching men and women receive their diplomas and doctoral hoods after years of hard work and sacrifice is a joy to watch. I was once where they are and remember all too well the immense feeling of relief of completing one phase of the journey.
This time of year graduates from preschools, grade schools, high schools, universities, graduate schools, and trade schools all over the world will have similar experiences. Here are four ways you can help the graduates in your life.
1. Celebrate them. Graduation is an opportunity for celebration. It marks the completion of a phase of education and training. Take the time to celebrate them and let them know how proud you are of their accomplishments. The graduation ceremony itself is a whirlwind for most graduates, and it's short lived. Years of hard work are celebrated in a ceremony that lasts barely an hour. It can feel anticlimactic. Find some creative ways of celebrating your graduates beyond just the day of commencement.
2. Pray for them. No matter what type of graduation they are participating in, the graduates in your life could use your prayers. As they move into another phase of life, adjustments can be tough. They may be uncertain or fearful. They may have doubts about their future plans or abilities. Pray for them to have confidence in themselves and the Lord who loves them and has gotten them to this place in life.
3. Model Christ for them. Sometimes we have a tendency to think our job is over after graduation. If the loved ones or friends in our life are graduating from college or graduate school, it's easy to breathe the heavy sigh of relief that our job is over. But as followers of Christ, we are called to serve as an example of others of what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus. Continue to model Christ to them so they will have an example to follow.
4. Allow them to transition. Graduation not only marks the completion of one phase of education or training, it marks the beginning of a new phase of life. Allow the graduates in your life to progress to that next level. Many parents I've worked with over the years had a hard time allowing their teens to grow up and move on to the next phase of life. Though their teenage child is growing up and entering into adulthood, parents tend to continue to see them as, "My little man" or "Our little princess." That sounds so sweet, and yet it is so unhealthy when we fail to allow children and teenagers to grow up and enter adulthood in a meaningful way. We don't do graduates any favors when we continue to treat them as if they haven't achieved the milestone of graduation.
This is a fun time of year as we see graduations happening all around us. We are celebrating the accomplishments of our family members and friends as they move from one phase of life to the next. As you observe commencement exercises or see photos of graduates on social media, think of ways in which you can be intentional to do these four things as a blessing to the graduates in your life.