Pastor Mike Hughes
It was exactly 40 years ago that I graduated from Washburn Rural High School, Topeka, Kan. Although it was in a rural area, my high school was largely populated with Air Force kids from Forbes AFB. It was a great school. We had 600 kids and competed in the same state athletic division as schools like Wichita East with over 3,000 kids. But we had our share of the "days of glory." My sophomore year we took third place in the state in basketball. We went undefeated in football. This was before any statewide postseason was invented. You know, ages ago!
We graduates of 1964 were the ones who were going to change the world. How have we done after 40 years? Well, as I look around, we haven't really changed much. We have moved from the Cold War to the War on Terror. My generation became known as the "ME" generation: too focused on "doing our own thing" to sacrifice for others.
On Memorial Day weekend, I watched as the World War II Memorial was dedicated and marveled at the "Great Generation" which sacrificed so much for future generations - 400,000 dead and 16 million in uniform. Nothing since compares with what they went through. But, it is being said today that this generation of graduates may rival the "Great Generation" in its willingness to serve and to sacrifice for the future. I hope and pray that this is so.
So we come to the graduates of today, of Sunnyside High, Sunnyside Christian, Grandview and Granger, etc. Congratulations! You've made a great achievement. But, you have only made a beginning on what can be a great journey. You show a lot of promise and many who have been watching you have high hopes for your generation. I am hoping that your generation will reverse the excesses of my generation. Allow me to give a little help in that process from Rick Warren's book, The Purpose-Driven Life.
Understand what your purpose in life is. Make it the center of your life. The ME generation thought life was all about US. But Warren points out that our purpose in life is all about God. Find out what God's purpose is for your life and follow it.
Develop the character of your life: "God is far more interested in what you are than in what you do. Your career will not go with you into eternity, but your character will. The Bible contains all the principles of character development. Use it.
Make your life a contribution to others. Serve God by helping others, just as Christ did. Be the next "Great Generation."
Make sure that your life communicates Good News. A Christian graduate therefore would need to focus on sharing Christ with others in the way he/she lives.
Enter into a close community of friends. God made us social beings. People need people. As you leave to find a new career and home, find people who will care for you. A good church will have such people. They will stand with you through all the trials of life and share the joys of life with you as well.
I recommend you all read The Purpose-Driven Life. Billy Graham says, "Make sure you're not missing the point of your life - read this book! The Purpose-Driven Life will guide you to greatness - through living the Great Commandment and the Great Commission."
Congratulations, Class of 2004! Go forth and discover God's purpose for your lives
- Rev. Dr. Michael B. Hughes is pastor of the Sunnyside First Baptist Church.