It’s graduation time. Do you remember the advice you were given at your graduation? Neither do I. Advice is as common as pollen in Tallahassee in the spring. I sure don’t remember any of the ‘wisdom’ imparted to me when I graduated from high school, college and seminary. So I thought I’d share a few thoughts on what I wish someone had said to me as I went, excited and anxious, into the undiscovered place of my new future.
I know I’m dating myself but how many of you remember the movie, “City Slickers”? It was a 1991 comedy movie starring Billy Crystal as “Mitch” and Jack Palance as “Curly”. Mitch is a middle-aged man, quite unhappy, restless, struggling. Curly is a seasoned cowhand. On the trail, Curly tells Mitch that there is one key to happiness in all of life.
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? This. (He holds up one finger.)
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest won’t matter.
Mitch: But what is the “one thing?”
Curly: That’s what you have to find out.
So there you go, graduates. The most difficult and important task you now confront as you move into young adulthood is just one thing: to figure out your “one thing”. What is your place in the world? What is your reason for being? What is your unique fingerprint….the gift, talent, cause, passion…the “one thing” that God gave to you when you were born?
Today there are over 7 billion people on this earth. Every single one of them is one of a kind. There is no one who came before you who is just like you. There is no one who will come after you who will be like you either. God broke the mold when God made you. God gave you a special gift or gifts which make you, you.
And now the biggest part of your life is about doing the work of discovering your unique place in this life. As a child I wanted to be a fireman, then later a lawyer. When I was in college I changed my major three times. By my junior year I had yet to discover what I was good at, what I loved to do, and why God had put me here in the first place. My “one thing.”
Finally one day someone said “Wayne, have you ever thought about being a minister?” I never had. I started listening to that ‘still, small voice’ and decided to go to seminary just to see if this might be my “one thing”. Four years later I was ordained as a United Methodist Minister and 43 years later I can say this has indeed been my “one thing.”
So for what it’s worth, here’s my advice to you graduates. Trust that God has already given you your “one thing”. Believe that with all your heart, soul and mind. God made you for a purpose and the great adventure of life is finding out what that purpose is. Make no mistake about it…there will be many times when it will feel like you have absolutely no idea what to do or who to be. Like when you think you’ve figured out your “one thing” and it turns out wrong…or it changes. Have faith that you are going to find your God-given “one thing”. And when you do find it…(maybe you already have!)…thank God for it. Then dig into it with joy and passion!
This is about making a life, your life. It’s not about making a living or for money or worldly success. The happiest people I know are happy, not because of all the stuff they’ve accumulated, but because they have truly found their niche, their unique place.
No one can tell you what your “one thing” is…not your parents or teachers or mentors. You are sailing the ship, the training wheels are off, you’ve got the keys to the car. It is time for you to set out on your one amazing life’s journey.
Your “one thing”…it is within you waiting to be discovered.
Hans Balthasar once said: “Who you are is God’s gift to you; who you become is your gift to God.”
God once said: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
“Do you know what the secret to life is?” Just one thing. God already gave it to you. Now go find it!
You are loved,