I wanted to re-write a speech I gave ten years ago to see how my perspective and message has changed. A few days ago I posted the original speech I gave. If I had to give it again, it might look a little more like the following:
My Valedictorian Address Re-written (Ten Years Later)
Sitting down to re-write this speech more than ten years after the fact, I thought it might be poetic and clever to parallel the original, but having been only recently familiarized with its position, it might be more interesting to compose something unique.
I can’t say that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time between that day and this replaying those words and moments, but in staying true to clichés, hindsight is certainly twenty-twenty. I never considered myself a particularly selfish individual, but my own words from the past betray my prideful heart. Thank God He is gracious to reveal my arrogance. I am quite certain I will look back in another ten years amazed at my self interest and failure to love other people and Jesus as much as I should.
So what is this “new” speech about? What do I wish to communicate? How can I use the next five minutes better than I did ten years ago? Did I get it all wrong back then? No. There was some good content. Memories, thank yous, hinting toward the Cross and a little advice. So how do you improve what is already good? Let’s give it a try…
Ten years ago Facebook did not exist. Facebook has allowed us to feel like we are still friends with people we rarely engage and interact with. Ashamedly I can easily count on one hand the number of my high school classmates I’ve had dialogue with (spoken or written) in the last five years. Of course I have tons of excuses. I live over seven hundred miles from my hometown. I wasn’t extremely close with that many of my high school friends. There were only thirty six people in my class to begin with. I have an incredibly busy schedule. All of those things might be true, but the simple truth is that I just don’t make the time to stay in touch. The same could be said for my college friends, and I often do a poor job of investing in the lives of my current friends, so for that I need to apologize and ask forgiveness. In the end memories fade, but relationships and your influence on someone’s life is what lasts. Focus on the people in your life. Don’t be so concerned with nostalgia, but instead be intentional, patient and loving in the community that you have specifically been placed.
I still want to thank the faculty and staff at Pawnee High, Jr. High and Grade School. For those of you who see your job as the mission field it is, to teach not only curriculum but character and to conduct yourself in such a manner that makes evident your interests are loving and educating students rather than just babysitting and taking three months off each year, we owe you a debt of gratitude. I challenge you to take seriously the duties you’ve been charged with and not shirk the responsibility of helping mold the next generation, because while you may do the child a disservice by omission, but you rob yourself through commission.
I want to thank my grandparents for your never-ending support, encouragement and complete spoiling of me. All four of my grandparents are now over eighty years old and still kicking! While that is quite an accomplishment in itself, their true legacy is without a doubt both their faith and commitment to one another in marriage. If my seventeen year-old self knew what my 28 year-old barely married two years self knows, he would say that he is quite certain times have not always been fun or easy living with the same person for sixty years, but the incredible pursuit of a life-long covenant relationship can not be overstated or over-celebrated. I love you all.
To my brother I would apologize for not being the example I should have been and for treating you poorly. Ten years later I can say without hesitation, that you are a good friend, and I am proud of the man you are becoming.
I would have thanked my future in-laws for raising my wife in a Christ-centered home and for being the kind of people who are generous, encouraging and a lot of fun.
While I haven’t lived with my parents for quite sometime, you are still the definitive source for my development of character and relationship with God. You tirelessly placed truth and kindling around me which God used to spark a passion and desire for Him. Your consistent and loving discipline is appreciated now more than ever. I love you guys.
And to my future bride, you will be an unending source of love, laughter and encouragement. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you, learning what it means to truly love and serve.
Just in case you missed it up until this point, I am a Christian, a follower of Christ. It seems evident to me through historic accounts as well as observation of man-kind and the universe that there is a God and that the Jesus of the Bible is His son. The entirety of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the story of God reconciling the world to Himself. God’s ultimate goal is to make His glory known. Therefore, God is not interested in our begrudging submission to a laundry list of rules, because He would not be glorified in that. Instead, He is infinitely concerned with our joy which results in loving obedience. All have sinned, because even the smallest infraction against a holy and perfect God, is infinitely offensive and therefore deserves an equally infinite punishment and penalty, but grace provided a way to give us right-standing before a blameless God. Jesus Christ saved us from sin and death, a consequence we justly deserve. Jesus lived the perfect life we could not. He died on the cross for our sins and then rose from the dead. Now we can receive His righteousness and have eternal life as co-heirs with Christ. If you are not a believer in Jesus, if you have not put your faith in Him and call Him Lord and Savior, if you are a fan of Jesus but not a follower, I urge you to investigate and make a decision. Read the Gospel story: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. See for yourself if Jesus was who He said he was? He didn’t really leave the option to think He was just a good guy and a moral teacher. He claimed to be the Son of God. He was either an insane lunatic or He spoke the truth.
In conclusion I would like to give my classmates some final thoughts:
- Be generous with your time and money, and treat everyone with compassion and kindness.
- Your parents may not be right 99% of the time, but they are a great source of knowledge and wisdom.
- There will often be times that you will do your best, and your best won’t be good enough. Slow and steady just might lose you the race. You will never be the fastest, the strongest, the smartest or any other superlative adjective positive or negative. There is always someone better, and there is always someone worse. Don’t walk with a limp, but don’t walk with a swagger either.
- There will most definitely be good times and bad. God never promises blue skies and sunshine. What he does promise is Himself, and that is enough.
I pray God blesses you and keeps you and that He is glorified in your life.