[A Note to Parents]
This year two of my boys are moving out to go to school. My hope is that we have given them the skills and wisdom they will need to live a meaningful life that makes an impact for God. I hope that we have also built relationships with them so that we can continue to guide and teach them. Whether you are graduating your first student or last, whether they are going to school or staying home, our young people are transitioning into a new phase of life.
I would like to share with you some of the principles of life that I consider most important for young people to observe as they move into this next phase of life. May these reminders encourage your graduates and stimulate meaningful conversation with you during this transition.
[A Note to the Graduate]
- Remember who you are.
By now you have begun to establish some of the most important aspects of your worldview, character, and identity. These will be challenged. You will probably experience an increasing intensity of pressure to move in a life direction that is counter to who you are. One of the greatest sources of this pressure will be your own desire to receive the respect and acceptance of others. Remember what you’ve probably already discovered: you’ll never be able to please them all. Many do not have your best interest at heart. Many are headed in the wrong direction. Do not worry about what people think about you, but instead, focus on developing the foundation you’ve previously built.
- Be teachable.
Even as you stand strong in who you are, you can still remain humble and teachable. Please understand that one of the most common mistakes of young people is to be overly confident in their own views and understanding. Be open to new ideas and ways of thinking. Practice thinking and saying this: “I could be wrong…” Ask questions, listen carefully, read voraciously, thirst for knowledge, and surround yourself with wise people.
- Stay in community.
Closely related to being teachable is the importance of staying in community. Be sure to surround yourself with people who are for you, who are wise and honest, who will hold you accountable, and lift you up, not tear you down. If you are a Christian, you’ll want to make sure that you are a part of a biblical, local church.
- Think critically.
Although you are striving to be teachable, being open-minded doesn’t mean you believe everything you hear. A wise man once said, “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) This means that you must think critically. When you hear a claim, identify and analyze the argument that is behind it. What assumptions are being made? Are they true? What is the logic of the argument? Is it valid? Do you see any logical fallacies?
- Do what you love.
When I say, “Do what you love,” I don’t mean you can do whatever you put your mind to. The fact is, work and learning are hard. You’ll have to do things that you don’t want to. You often can’t make a living with your favorite hobby or pastime (at least not at first). What I do mean is that you should observe the gifts and talents that you have been given. There are activities that you are good at and enjoy that can be a valuable service or commodity to others. Find out how you can make a living in that field and work to become proficient in it. These gifts and abilities will also be avenues for volunteer service and ministry in your community.
- Seek God.
Many of you are followers of Jesus Christ. If so, then you know that Paul’s advice is vital: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
You will be making some of the most important decisions of your life over the next few years. The choices you make now will establish the foundation and trajectory of your life. Do you believe that God’s ways and plan for you are the best? Then seek to know Him and His will.
We can understand what God’s will is by studying the Bible, praying, following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and listening to our parents and pastors. God has promised that if you ask Him for wisdom, He will generously give it to you. (James 1:5) Do you believe that He will? Then ask Him in faith! (James 1:6-8)
Matthew McDill and his wife, Dana, homeschool their nine children in Creston. Matthew is the executive director for North Carolinians for Home Education and continues to serve as president of the board. Through his ministry, Truth to Freedom (truthtofreedom.org), he teaches and writes about discipleship, marriage, family, parenting, home education, and church. Matthew holds a bachelor’s degree in communication along with two master’s degrees and a doctorate in biblical studies.
If your family had a homeschool student who graduated with the class of 2020, encourage other families when you share your favorite homeschool memories in the section below.