Words of wisdom to 2013 graduating class


The truth is that it’s really not what others say to you or about you graduates that determines your future; it’s what you say to yourself after the other person is finished talking. We’re reminded in Proverbs that “life is in the power of the tongue and those who love it (life) will eat its fruit”  – get all life has to offer.

An example of this is you would like to pursue your education, but “I’m afraid if I register for classes and can’t do the work, I’ll be embarrassed or I’ll feel stupid”.

Words and thoughts like that become self-fulfilling prophecies. If you do not replace your negative self talk with faith talk you will always live in fear. It’s not easy to do. It takes discipline, self-awareness and most of all scriptural reprogramming. But, by changing your thoughts about yourself, you’ll begin to change your life. Job says, “You will… declare a thing and it will be established for you.”

Feed inner self
At times you may not feel like you believe the particular scripture you’re standing on, but that’s OK, because if you consistently feed your inner self-positive thoughts, the rest of your body will act accordingly.

Starting today, serve an eviction notice to every negative thought that’s holding you back from moving into new, unfamiliar territory and begin feeding your mind with God’s word.  It works.

Keep the word diversity in your mind, because the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. If you encounter folks who tell you that you have nothing to offer, be sure to laugh, cause that’s a joke. When God made each of you, he stepped back and said, “That’s very good.”

So do not even entertain negative opinions. Each of you have so much potential that the word possibility is written all over you. By God’s grace you can be everything He desires. You’ll make mistakes, but learn from them and keep your eyes on your future. Always remembering that our God is a God of second chances and third and fourth ones too.

Faith required
I must remind you that you can’t do anything without faith. Faith is the “substance” of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Notice faith is a substance.

God promises to answer your prayer, you believe Him, but your faith is the “substance you hold on to while you’re waiting. But Faith is also evidence. You are not the first folks to trust God and you won’t be the last.

People have been trusting God for thousands of years and He has never let them, let me, let you down. God’s faithfulness is all the evidence you need. So it’s wise to put all your trust in God always remembering that unless you’re willing to take risks, you won’t succeed in life. Yes, there is a time for playing it safe, but caution cannot become a lifestyle for you. You’ll get bogged down in it while life passes you by.

Learn to communicate
Communication is an important part of both our physical and spiritual lives. We are constantly discovering how vital communication is.

Prayer is communication with God. We can talk to Him as we talk to a friend and He hears us. The Bible is the main way God speaks to us and prayer is the main way we speak to God.

The written report that you get from your school or college does not have to have all “A’s” on it for you to graduate with the highest honors. Your highest honors are earned by living a focused life.

Stay focused
Great achievers stay focused on their goals. They filter out all the mess, the junk around them, the trash talk and keep only their personal goals in front of them.

The future sneaks up on us and starts looking more like the past. We sometimes tend to give our attention to the “wheels that make the most noise, the person who talks the loudest or the meanest one in the group or the one who has the hippest set of wheels.

We use the wrong measuring rods just hoping that some of that junk other folks thrive on will bring favor in our lives. But it doesn’t work. Graduation with highest honors takes focus and focus doesn’t just happen, you must direct it. You have to do a full court press, this includes forgetting past failures, stop measuring your progress on the empty so called greatness of others, and putting all your energies into anticipating your own future success.

Press on to reach the end of the race. Take these steps and you are guaranteed to graduate with highest honors, both now and in the future.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13.

Patricia Bennett is a retired Philadelphia educator who spoke recently to a group of Volusia County graduates in Daytona Beach. She resides in Deltona. This is an excerpt from her speech.



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