Graduation is a time of paradox.
Beginnings and endings blend together as one life season merges into the next. Plans and dreams jumble together with uncertainty and fear. It’s saying hello to the future as we wave goodbye to the past.
And honestly? As exciting as graduation is, it can also feel terrifying.
Leaving the security of twelve years of grade school, always knowing vaguely what the next year would hold—i.e. more (and harder) math, grammar, and science—and stepping into the world of adulting and life choices can feel daunting and intimidating.
So what are your plans?
What’s next for you?
What are you going to do with your life?
The questions are endless and the pressure can weigh heavy. At the Reb, we know how it feels. Many of our editors and staff writers have navigated graduation and the uncertainty of the subsequent years. While we don’t have it all figured out, we want to share the best pieces of advice that we’ve learned and leaned on during and after our own graduations.
Sara Barratt—Managing Editor: Leverage your life for God’s glory
Graduation is a time of new beginnings, a season of launching out into life choices that will have a defining impact on the entire course of your life. Standing at this fork in the road, I encourage you to keep one thing foremost in your mind: your life purpose.
While the world may view purpose primarily in terms of external success, the gospel offers us a purpose beyond the transient things of this world. We’re given a single-minded, wholehearted mission: to exalt and glorify God and spread His glory among all people and nations. In a culture that encourages you to choose the path of the greatest success, to promote your own name, and ensure your own comfort and security, Jesus calls us to prioritize His kingdom, follow Him faithfully, and proclaim the good news of the gospel. Seek God to reorient your passions and priorities to align with His purposes. Because no matter what your life plan looks like—whether going overseas, into full-time ministry, going to college, or working faithfully at a 9-5 job—your life purpose remains the same: to expend the one life you’ve been given glorifying, exalting, and obeying Jesus Christ. Dear grad, leverage your life for His glory and let Him lead you every step of the way.
Jaclynn Marie–Social Media Manager: You don’t have to have it all figured out
I remember feeling a number of emotions as my graduation approached. Naturally I was excited to be done with school, but I also had fear and uncertainty regarding the future. What would be next? What would be expected of me? Was I ready to be an adult? You may be asking yourself these same questions–and then some.
Let me remind you that you don’t have to have it all figured out. We often spend so much time worrying about the future and what plans need to be made, but we forget that God already has everything taken care of. Matthew 6:26-27 says, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t make any plans or have any goals, but we shouldn’t worry so much about them. We shouldn’t put our faith in our plans, but rather in the sovereignty of our Lord. Our plans are constantly changing, but God’s plan for our life remains. Release the pressure to have everything figured out and rest in the knowledge that God has everything under control.
Elizabeth Davis–Staff Writer: Find your community
I can still remember my full and unpacked dorm room contrasted with the emptiness and loneliness in my heart as my parents said goodbye on my first day of college. But I can also remember an empty house contrasted with a floor full of my friends (and our tears) as we said goodbye on our last day of college. If it were not for my community of encouragement, mission, laughter, shared burdens, honest conversations, accountability, and constant focus on Truth, I would not be following Jesus in the way I am today. Find your community. Not just a community that calls themselves Christians, yet looks no different than the rest of the world around you. Find people who are unafraid to follow Jesus in the face of opposition. Find people who love studying God’s word and inspire you to do the same. Find people who will link arms with you as you head into the harvest fields to make disciples together. It is only in the context of community that we can comprehend the “breadth and length and height and depth” of Christ’s love in all of its fullness (Ephesians 3:18).
Holly Ciampi–Graphic Designer: Don’t forget who you are and Whose you are
Many things will try to pull at your identity: “Be this, because everyone else is.” “Believe this, because it’s the popular opinion.” “Do this, because it looks good.” But don’t turn to these voices to define your identity or determine what’s true. These phrases only lead to lies and frustration. Only God can say who you are. Only God is ultimate truth. Your past mistakes, current circumstances, and future worries do not define you. You are sons and daughters of our gracious Heavenly Father and because of that, you are loved. You are warriors, chosen and equipped with everything you need to follow and glorify Jesus. As you take the next step forward, don’t forget who you are and Whose you are.
Audrey French–Staff Writer: God walks with you through the transition
While graduation is a time of celebration, it is also a time of change and transitions. I just graduated with my bachelor’s degree this April, so I’m experiencing a transition season as well! Thankfully, God is always with us in every new season. He sees our future, and He has a beautiful calling on our lives (Ephesians 1:18). He is holding our hand, walking us through every step of the way (Isaiah 41:13). Stay excited and hopeful about the plans God has for you. God is going to use you in amazing ways to fulfill the call that He has placed on your life! Let the adventure begin!
Zach Sollie–Don’t let perfectionism become an idol
My biggest piece of advice for those of you moving from High School to College is to be aware that perfectionism can become an idol. When I went to college, I strived for straight A’s. When I got my first A-, I felt like I’d failed. Looking back, I wish I’d spent more time and effort in the friendships I made rather than stressing over if I’ll get an A or B in class. Remember, the relationships you form after graduating can be some of the strongest in your life!
Need a Grad Gift?
Do you want to help set a grad up for success? Do you want to encourage them grow strong in their faith and point them to follow Jesus? Would you like your grad gift to be both meaningful, practical, and encouraging? If so, we have the perfect suggestions!
Check out the book that started it all–the revolutionary, “rebelutionary” handbook on rebelling against low expectations and using your life for God’s glory: Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. Consider adding the Do Hard Things conference videos to ignite your grad’s motivation to launch into the next season with passion and commitment.
Also pick up a copy of The Rebelution’s latest book: Love Riot: A Teenage Call to Live With Relentless Abandon for Christ from our managing editor Sara Barratt. It’s estimated that approximately 66% of teens leave the church after graduating high school. Many young adults drift away in college or begin to have doubts about their faith when confronted with secular ideas and worldviews. Love Riot is designed to help teens and young adults grow stronger in their faith, passionately challenging and encouraging them to live with relentless abandon for Christ. It gives practical tips on digging into God’s Word, prayer, navigating relationships, evaluating media usage, sharing the gospel, and more!
(purchase two copies of Love Riot and get a bundle of free resources including a leader’s guide and video series!)
From all of us at the Reb, we wish the class of 2021 God’s blessings! May you seek Him faithfully, trust Him daily, and use your life for His glory!