It’s #fbf or Flashback Friday as we call it in these parts. All over the World Wide Web, photos are shared as we dote over the cute pics of the past or commiserate with those who need to burn them forever. Either way, we take time to remember who we were back then. In lieu of this, I’ve decided to dig into the archives and pull out something that I wrote over 4 years ago. It was the manuscript to the commencement speech given to the Graduating Class of 2010 at Pathway Christian School in East Point, GA. A school I might add no longer exists. Wesley and I had the privilege of speaking to the final graduating class. My former self was preaching to my present self after reading this!
My mind did a time-lapse as I recalled the circumstances surrounding the preparation of this speech. Back then, I was a store clerk in the GCSU college bookstore and Wesley was the preaching minister at First Christian Church in Milledgeville, GA. I remember my dear friend, Lekha, stopping by the bookstore one Thursday to check in on me. Her words of encouragement help birth this speech.
It encouraged me today. I hope it does the same for you. Grab your favorite beverage and get comfortable cause this post is a long one…
AHEM *clears throat*
PATHWAY CHRISTIAN SCHOOL COMMENCEMENT SPEECH 2010
Greetings to the diligent staff at Pathway Christian School, the parents and relatives, well wishers, and most importantly to the 2010 graduating class of Pathway Christian School.
Wesley and I are blessed with this great opportunity to speak to you on such a momentous day in your life. This day can be seen as a rite of passage – a period in time where all that you have gleaned in the past 12 years will be needed to navigate life. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we are proud of you.
As I stand before you, I see a group of young men and women who have chosen against the odds to continue pressing forward. You have chosen to push even when life’s circumstances dealt you a hand that demanded you surrender. You have faced rejection, abandonment, dejection, challenge, turbulence, loss; you’ve even cried sometimes. I admit it; I have also been there. You have felt like the outcast, the last, or the one that everyone pitied. Well I am here to tell you. You made it!
You have persevered; you held the course, even in the times of uncertainty and negativity, you dared to go on. So, what can we say to you that will make a difference in the here and now for the there and later? What wisdom can we impart to you, which you have not heard? We come to you today with just two words, “DEFY DESTINY”. Some of you may say, “This makes no sense.” Others may be asking themselves, “Why would I defy my destiny if I am destined to succeed!” Our question today is, “ARE YOU DESTINED SUCCEED? “ To truly understand what we are saying one must first start from the beginning- the very genesis of life, Utopia – as we know it – when all things were GOOD! The Adam & Eve days. Yet even in the midst of goodness, we were bamboozled, we believed a lie, we lied, we cast blame, we threw ourselves a pity-party, we hid, we struggled, we were cast out of paradise, and we died.
But GOD had a plan!
So we messed up, we were deceived; our very need to be like God has limited our potential and ability to do the impossible. Sin seems to seal our fate committing us to a destiny filled with hopelessness. A destiny devoid of success and laced with failure but God has a plan:
He reminded Jeremiah as I remind you now: “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
A plan has been constructed even before you were created; a plan was woven together like the very emblems of our body integrating every aspect of your life. So many details to consider yet this plan has been skillfully crafted to ensure the maximum output of all untapped potential. This plan factors in the good, the bad, and the ugly and guarantees a lifetime warranty that works out to your favor. This plan makes certain that you live out the very goal of your existence. Most importantly this ingenious plan was created for God’s glory.
This plan that I speak of is called PURPOSE!
Purpose can be defined as your reason for living; it is the aim of your life’s work. It is what gives your life meaning; it is what makes life worth living; it elicits great passion and brings relief to your burden. It is specifically what you have been engineered to do. You were created on purpose. The lifetime of your purpose supersedes the days you have been appointed to live on this earth. It precedes you, succeeds you, and defines you.
In Psalms 139:16, The Psalmist David speaks of God’s provision concerning our life even before we were born. David writes, all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” The days that you have lived and the ones you will soon experience have been planned out from the very beginning, yet we are fixated on this notion of finding purpose for living as if your purpose was lost. The revelation is this:
Purpose lies within you. The morass of sin seeking to kill, steal, and destroy has marred our ability to realize the ultimate objective for life. Yet God has a plan. Proverbs 19: 21, Solomon speaks to the many ‘idealistic’ plans we have for our lives:
- Going to College
- Graduating College
- Falling in love
- Earning a 7-figure income
- Marrying Well
- Living like the Joneses
- Travelling the world
A host of events that is sure to benefit you and make your life comfortable yet this is not what purpose is about. The goal of purpose is to ensure the community benefits. It requires a giving of you so others may receive. Purpose is a direct representation of God’s work through you. It is when you know and understand what you were born to accomplish. We choose to defy destiny when we live life on purpose.
Have you ever encountered the feeling of total dissatisfaction because you know that you are not doing what you have been designed to do and it feels like you are going insane seeking relief in futile activities. You get consumed in formulating plans for your life when the truth is the plan for your life was established way before you were. Always remember that God knows your ending at the very beginning. To comprehend this concept of purpose, you must first know who you are. And for many us, this too is a stumper. Our very identity has been obscured by our sins. But remember we were initially created to be perfect and must constantly work towards this goal. The world tries to define us, the devil wants to confine us but God wants to remind us that His plan is to refine us.
This refining speaks to the refinement of your plans as well. But first you must know who you are. To know who you are, you must first know whose you are.
A destiny of success can only be possible when you live in total surrender to Christ and committed to the work that He seeks to do in this world. It is here we realize that the visions and work that he has called us to do is so much bigger than we are and we are not wired to do it ourselves. Purpose is much larger than the person. A life lived on purpose is one that Defies Destiny.
Steps to DEFYING DESTINY:
- Seek God – His Intent for Creation, For the Church, For Humanity, For Purpose, For your Life
- Seek Wisdom – The Fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom, Prov 2:12 (Save you from the ways of wicked men) Prov 4:6 – It will protect you
- Seek Help – You are good when you do it alone, but you are better when you do it with another.
- Seek Opportunity – Seek opportunities to learn, seek opportunities to serve, seek opportunities to love (Colossians 3:23), seek opportunities to save not just your money but even a life.
WE SERVE A PERFECT GOD WITH A PERFECT PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE AND HE WILL ENSURE THAT THIS PERFECT PLAN COMES TO PAST IN ITS PERFECT TIME. SO LET YOUR AIM BE PERFECTION.
I AM confident of this, that GOD has began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It may be in the board room, in a kitchen, or in the middle of the desert – Remember He knows the details of His plan fully well. You continue to trust Him and work faithfully. The quality of your work testifies: To God – To The Gospel – To the Good you have been called to do. It testifies to who you have been called to BE.
DO IT WELL!
So to those who said you would not make it, to those who lacked faith in your abilities, to those who laughed in your face and talked about you behind their backs, to the haters who were really your motivators, to those who wait to see you stumble, hear me well when I say God specializes in transforming nothings into something, failure into success, paupers into princes, victims into victors, students into teachers, servants into leaders. What was meant for evil God has turned it around for good so many lives can be saved. This is the good news of the gospel.