Spring fever is upon us! Green grass, warm evenings, spring sports, prom, senior skip day…
Spring also means high school graduation is just around the corner. Your seniors’ rite of passage is a time for fun and celebration. But with a little forethought, you can turn this occasion into an amazing opportunity to honor your graduates and to launch them well on their way to post-high school life.
Make it Special
Graduation is open season for asking some probing spiritual questions that can get all your students thinking about what they really want out of life as they contemplate what lies ahead. I encourage you to make it a focus of one of your youth group meetings.
But I also encourage you to get with your seniors one-on-one at some point in the next month or two and have honest conversations about the opportunities and pitfalls that lie ahead for them. Challenge them to articulate their goals and dreams and purpose for being. Encourage them to keep God front and center. Urge them to share their faith consistently as they build new relationships and enter a whole new “mission” field.
These next few years are among the freest, most opportunity-filled years they’ll experience in their entire lives. Counsel them to savor them and make the most of them as they seek to know God and make Him known. Caution them to use their new freedoms wisely, so that they won’t stand on the other side these coming years and say, “I wasted it… I wasted the chance I had in college, or in my late teens and early twenties to make a difference in my world.”
So use graduation season well. Don’t just let it slip by without passing along some gems of Godly wisdom for the next stage of life. Here are some ideas you might use to focus your approach:
- Ask your seniors about their goals and dreams. This can open up whole conversations about the purpose of life and how God made us to be in relationship with Him. God made each of us with our own unique set of gifts, abilities and passions so that we can find our own unique way to help bring His light and love to our corner of the world. As they’re in the process of figuring out what they want to do with their lives, it’s essential to invite God into the process. When they leave God out of their plans, it’s like building a house without a proper foundation. Matthew 7:24-25 says, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse, because it is built on rock.” After the conversation, challenge them to write out their goals/dreams for the next four years and invite them to send them to you, so you can be praying for them.
- Encourage your grads to pay attention to the spiritual dimension of life! Without a strong relationship with God, it’s easy to spend your time trying to fill that God-shaped hole in your soul with things like money, stuff, success, popularity, drinking, sex or whatever you “think” might make you happy. Psalm 37:4-6 promises us: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence as clear as the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.”
- Give your seniors a special gift that will provide a touchstone back to you, the youth group and what they’ve learned about being a Jesus follower.
- Encourage them to trust God with their future! Sometimes grads are a little stressed out about all the changes ahead.One way or the other, big changes are ahead for most of them as they contemplate heading off to college or the workplace. It can be easy to stress out about big changes like moving out of their parents’ house and making new friends. Philippians 4:6-7 advises, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Share how God is the best source of security and stability in a crazy, ever-changing world.
By reminding your graduates that a deep relationship with God is the secret to a joy-filled, meaningful life, you’ll be giving them the “keys to success.”