A Message to Derrick, 1991

Yesterday I was able to speak at the baccalaureate for Haines City High School.  I spent a few days preparing what I would say.  I found some scripture, humor, and inspiration that I could impart to the graduating class of 2016.  I greatly enjoy opportunities like this because when I graduated high school back in the summer of 1991, I would have had no chance to address the student body…I almost was not allowed to walk with my class, but that is a story for a different day.  As I prepared my message for the graduates, I began to think about what I would go back and say to myself as a graduate in 1991.  What would I warn myself about?  What would I say to inspire myself to greatness?  So today, I am going to share my message to the me from 25 years ago.

Derrick, congrats on finishing high school!  While this is a great accomplishment, it is not the entirety of who you are.  You are more than your GPA.  You are more than the scholarship you earned, and you are more than how you see yourself.  You see, you are a child of God, a child of the one true King.  That makes you a prince.  Take that crown and wear it proudly.  You are not just living for you, but for a God who has always loved you, even though you have not met Him yet.  You have more value than you think.  Be careful about the partying you are thinking about doing.  You are not indestructible, and the things you do today will have consequences in the future.  While you may not see it now, God has a great plan for you, and you will one day learn that you value is not solely wrapped up in friendships, both failed and successful.  You will learn that your value comes from not who you know, but who you serve.

Make sure you take the time to enjoy the world around you.  Stop to look at the sunsets and sun rises.  Pay attention to the wants and needs of the people you encounter.  Not every smile means someone is happy.  Not every bad deed means a person is bad.  Take care of the people who have taken care of you.  Give back to the world around you.  Help someone in need.  Don’t be afraid to tell the people you love that you love them…you don’t know how long you have with them.

Never stop learning.  Not just in school, but in every aspect of life.  Listen to the senior adults around you.  There is a lot of wisdom there, and they want to pass it on to your generation.  Listen to old war stories.  Share in the tears about friends lost in war.  Share in the joy of a 50th wedding anniversary.  Be happy to help when they don’t understand those new computers.  You can make a big impact on their lives by allowing them to make an impact on yours.

Listen to the stories of children.  Play games with them, and be ok with letting them win every once in a while.  Teach them to throw a ball and catch a ball.  Many of the children you encounter will not have the same kind of family you do.  Enjoy entering their world of make believe.  Greet their imaginary friends, and talk with them.  Hug them when they fall and hurt themselves.  Let them help you remember not to take life so seriously.

Finally, don’t take life to seriously.  You will have to have a job.  The trick is to find something you enjoy doing.  If you can do that, you will feel like you never really have to work.  It’s even better if you can find someone to pay you for what you love.  Laugh often, but make sure you love more.  Be prepared to face disappointments, but remember that God holds the cards.  He will not leave you alone.  When times get tough, pray to God to help you through it.  Again, you may not know it now, but God will be the only one who never leaves you or hurts you.


What would you say to your younger self?

Pastor Derrick