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We were blessed to have one of our alumni, also a parent of one of our 2018 graduates, deliver the commencement address this year. We’re sharing a part of her advice to our 8th graders as they head out to learn, to lead and to serve faithfully in God’s world:
“You may or may not know, but BCS has lots of traditions – which I personally love. Many of my friends tease me about my long and varied list of traditions in our house. And because of this, I find great joy watching my own children do many of the things I did as a student here. Some things have changed over the years, the enrollment, the school colors, even the name….but the core of BCS remains the same. Founded in faith, teaching God’s Word.
During your time here, you have been challenged to learn, to lead and to serve. This is more than just a tag line for the school. It is a great foundation for your life. It’s time to take those principles into the next chapter! Never stop learning. Look for the ways God has prepared for you to lead. Live a life of service. This reminds me of a phrase used in medical training: “Watch one, do one, teach one.”
The first phase of learning to do a new skill is watching someone who has mastered that skill. This is not an inactive, sit back and watch. This takes concentration, a willingness to learn, not being afraid to ask questions. I believe that much of your time at BCS has been a phase of “watch one.” You have been “watching” your teachers for years now, taking in all the knowledge they are working to pass on. You have learned your days of the week from Mrs. Bylsma. You learned to read from Mrs. Patch, cursive handwriting from Mrs. Otten, and world history from Mr. Dekker.
But you have also learned how to pray, how to study the Bible, how to be a reading buddy, how to stand without moving in the wax museum, how to give speeches, how to resolve conflict, how to encourage others. You have had the opportunity to “Build Each Other Up,” to learn what it means to be part of the “Body of Christ,” and how to “Grow in Grace.” You have been blessed with parents, teachers, small group leaders, and coaches who have prayed for you, encouraged you, and instructed you in these things.
BCS has prepared you well for the next phase: “Do one.” It is important to know that in the medical field the “do one” phase is done under supervision. The instructor who had you watch their procedure, now supervises you as you do the procedure. You are not left on your own yet. You are still side by side with someone who has more skill, more knowledge, more training. So has been your experience at BCS. Your parents, other parents, teachers, principal, coaches – they have been there to lead, guide and cheer you on as you put your knowledge into practice and do one.
You’ve learned about unity in Christ and then practiced the “doing” in your unity groups. Watch one, do one. You’ve watched and learned about leadership and you’ve practiced the “do one” phase in the classroom and on student council. You were a little buddy once, looking up to the big kids. Then, you yourself became the big buddy and little ones were looking up to you and watching you. Watch one, do one.
You have been taught about the importance of service and then you have gone outside these walls and packed food for Feed My Starving Children. You’ve collected and sorted shoes at Soles for Jesus, and this year you picked 2500 pounds of vegetables to help feed Milwaukee’s hungry and homeless. Watch one, do one. All the while, being surrounded by “supervisors,” resources and encouragers.
Now comes the exciting and scary phase: “Teach one.” It’s your turn to take all that you have experienced, all that you have learned, and share it! Share the knowledge, gifts and talents that have been nurtured in you with others. You are headed out into the world where you will have more autonomy, more responsibility and will be making more decisions on your own – decisions that have bigger impact and consequences. Remember that every decision, every friendship, every conversation is an opportunity to represent God.
I’d like to offer a couple practical ways to represent God, lead by example and teach one:
Be truthtellers. Proverbs 12:22 says “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in people who are trustworthy.” Lying is the way of the world and often the easy way out. Resist the urge to make yourself look better or avoid consequences by lying. Lying hurts friendships and destroys trust. Instead, choose honesty even when it’s difficult. Lead by example. Speak truth and in doing so you teach one.
Take ownership. Accept responsibility for your mistakes. News flash: You will make mistakes. (We all do). You may lose your cool on the field or court, you may make a bad decision in the moment, you may post something on social media that you regret, or you may inadvertently find yourself in a bad situation because you went along with the crowd. I challenge you to own it. Don’t lie to yourself or others. It makes it worse. The Bible says in Proverbs 28:13 that “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
Others are watching how you deal with mistakes. When you accept responsibility you represent God well. Remember! Representing God does NOT mean pretending you never make a mistake. Showing others how to own it in the hard times and then choosing better next time is a wonderful example of God’s grace and goodness. And in it you teach one.
Be men and women of integrity. Having integrity means a person has a moral compass that does not waiver. It literally means having a “wholeness” of character that is undivided. Just as an integer is a whole number with no fractions. And for my kids that try to convince me that they’ll never need math, there’s some math you can use!
Base your moral standard on God’s Word and not what is right in the world’s eyes. That may change from year to year. But God’s truth never waivers, and the best way to know this is to know God’s Word!
As a mother of a young man, I’d like to say to the boys tonight: The world is full of examples of men who lie, who are arrogant, who do anything to win at all costs. Men who treat and speak of women with no respect. Men who are afraid to speak out and stand up for what’s right. DO NOT BE ONE OF THEM. Instead, lead by example and choose honesty, choose kindness, and speak the truth in love. Stand strong, be humble, choose your words and actions carefully. I Corinthians 15:58 says, “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.”
To the girls: As a fellow woman, I encourage you to be woman of excellent character. Use all that God has given you for His purposes. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourselves to others which can cause us to put people down to make ourselves feel better. Your identity is in Christ. Build others up and be generous. Watch your tongue and your choose your words carefully. Resist gossip. Be bold in your witness of Christ!
When you leave BCS, you may no longer be surrounded by teachers who watch over you or “supervise” your spiritual growth. In fact, you may be headed into circumstances that will challenge your faith. I will encourage you to find friends who share your love for God and strengthen those friendships. You can rely on one another, find common ground, accountability and encouragement there.
Choosing to live a life of integrity may come at a cost. You may risk losing a friendship or risk being labeled judgmental, narrow minded or weird for standing up for what is right or for telling others what you believe. This phase of “teach one” may bring on fear of rejection, ridicule or of being left out. I love the song that says “for every fear, there is an empty grave, for the Lord our God has overcome.” God took on all our fears and He buried them in the grave and He has overcome! You can trade your fear and put your trust in a God who promises to always be with you in every situation. He will never ask you to do these hard things without providing His power and grace.
Living your life full on for Christ will be a decision you will never regret. It is a life of fulfillment and purpose. It may not be easy, but God is with you always. And there is great blessing even in the hard times because God is faithful. The most important thing to remember is that He loves you. You are actively pursued by God who loves you so deeply and He desires to have an ever-growing relationship with you. And even with our mistakes or when it’s hard or challenging, I pray that truth compels you to want to make good decisions, to live a life of integrity and purpose and to point others to Jesus.
WATCH ONE. DO ONE. TEACH ONE.
This is a lifelong process, but look at all these people here tonight! They are all in your corner and are praying for you and cheering you on as you step out in faith. No matter how many years you’ve been here, you know that this community of believers is something special. Your families have become family to us. We will be forever grateful for our time here and the friendships we have made.
You are leaving this place and entering the next chapter, and I am so excited to see all the ways you will grow and serve God in the future. You are just a wonderful group of young men and women, and I am privileged to have watched you grow over all these years.
Congratulations to you on your graduation! Love you all.
To learn more about Brookfield Christian School or to schedule a visit, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.