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Graduation Day


(by Lou Gentry)

Six years ago, I attended commencement exercises to see my oldest son receive his Ph.D. from Michigan State University. At such ceremonies in large universities, it is not unusual for several honorary doctorates to be given to notables and large contributors to the university, and Michigan State was no exception to this tradition. Each recipient had about thirty seconds for comments. I was particularly struck by the comments of one recipient who gave more sage advice in thirty seconds to those graduation than the commencement speaker gave in thirty minutes.

This is what the man said: “I have had a long and successful career in business, and I attribute my success to three principles I’ve lived by. I now pass them on to you:

  1. Always be honest, that way you don’t have to worry when you’ve forgotten what you said.
  2. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  3. When you run out of brains, use common sense.”

His third point related to future situations the graduates will encounter for which their education (i.e., ‘book-learning’) has not prepared them.

You’ve already noted that the man’s first two principles are based on Scripture. I couldn’t help but wonder, however, how many of those who were graduation had never been in church and, therefore, would not recognize these principles as God-given. It encouraged me to hear these words delivered to the young people in attendance, and even if they didn’t know the source of these principles, accepting and applying them to their lives could make a difference in our society in the future. It is my hope and prayer that many there really heard this man, and will apply his principles for living to their own lives. If all graduates this year, high school and college, throughout our country would adopt and apply these three principles, what a change we would begin to see in our society.