This years graduating class from my church are very special to me. Even though I really dislike public speaking, I decided I wanted to say a little something to them at yesterday's service to bid farewell. Little did I know how emotional this would be for me. I consider myself a much better writer than public speaker but just speaking these words to them got me so choked up I could hardly talk. This just reassured to me how much this group truly means to me and how much I will miss them. They are going to do great things, I know it!
5-8-2016 - Senior Speech
Four years ago, I was blessed with a group of awkward Freshman, ready to take on the big, bad high school world. And for that, I will be forever thankful. Being a youth leader at St john, I have seen wonderful teenagers come and go throughout the past 6 years. But as this particular class graduates, they leave me with more than just memories. They leave with me being a better man for having them in my life.
When first introduced to this class, I was in a need of a positive change in my life, little did I know, it would be a group of high schoolers who would be so impactful on making that change happen.
I have been honored, privileged and grateful for the time I have been able to spend with you and even though you are graduating, you will forever hold a very special place in my heart. I am so proud to be here with you all today and I can only imagine how far in life you all will go.
I wanted to share a couple things with all of you that I believe are important as you venture off into the real world.
Don’t grow up too fast. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to be 18, and then when I was 18 and graduated from high school, I couldn’t wait to be 21. Then my 20’s were a complete blur and now all of a sudden I look at myself and I’m pushing the ripe old age of 33! When you are a teenager, the days of your life seem to stretch ahead of you forever. Looking back at them from my perspective, mine seem to have gone pretty fast. Slow down and enjoy every day of your life, because you will never get any of those days back.
I know that adults keep telling you to enjoy your teenage years because they are the best years of your life…. but that’s a lie. Being a teenager for many is mostly just going to school, doing homework, insecurity, young love, heartbreaks, self-consciousness, and personal loathing, with a few brief moments of fun, hanging out with friends. For those of you that fit that description, I promise, it does get better. Being a grownup, if you do it right, and work at it, is much better than being a teenager. Particularly if you find someone to love, and to love you back.
Take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail! If you don’t take risks, you will never reach your full potential, and you also won’t have much fun. Risk and hard work pay off, for the most part, and if they don’t, you will have still learned from the experience.
Believe in something! If you are not passionate about something in your life, you are missing something essential, and you are just breathing air and taking up space. Find something to believe in, and when you do, work for it, sacrifice for it.
Friends are important and if you want to have good friends, you have to be one. If you are a good friend, you will find that other people will be one to you. If you put their well-being above your own, they will do the same for you. It’s a good thing.
Keep giving back! All of you were blessed with brains, skill and a drive to succeed, or you would not be sitting here today about to graduate. You should always try to use those gifts for something other than your own enrichment. Do something useful with your lives. Make a difference in other peoples’ lives. Leave something behind when you leave this earth, not just because you should, but because it is the surest way of living a good and fulfilling life, plus, it will make you happy.
Take chances, stand for something, be a good friend and give something back. You will make a difference. And you will make us all proud.
I’ll miss you all.