Graduation Thoughts for All of Us

Does your family have a graduation this year? If not, I imagine you have received an announcement or two in the mail from someone who is marking this transition in life.

May and June are booked annually with academic graduations of all kinds. From the newly-popular kindergarten graduations to the traditional ceremonies marking the end of high school, college, graduate school, flight school, seminary, and a hundred other vocational training school finales, this is the season to celebrate milestones on the road of life.

But graduation isn’t just about academics. I recently graduated into another decade of life, and this transition for me is just as important as any college senior’s as I think about what I want to do with the next phase of my life. Like New Year’s Eve celebrations, graduations give us an opportunity to look at our lives and make adjustments and plans.

This past weekend during a day of heavy rain which prohibited our outdoor plans, my husband was flipping through channels and happened upon the National Geographic Geography Bee finals. We watched with amazement as the three young men in the finals answered questions about places we’d never heard of with names we could never pronounce. We thought we had a fairly solid grasp on world geography until we saw this event. We turned off the TV, pondering our vast ignorance, realizing how very average we are!

This weekend I came to a number of conclusions in light of my very average intelligence and abilities. These are my own graduation thoughts.

1. Being in the vast middle of the bell curve of intelligence is not an excuse for mediocrity. I never was valedictorian or even close, but continuing to learn, grow, and become in the journey of life is more important than a title. I’m personally more committed than ever to using my limited abilities to the max by actively cultivating what I’ve been given. In the words of Jesus, I plan to invest my one talent well and not bury it.

2. Intelligence is not supremely important.While superior intelligence may win praise from men and a scholarship prize, it is not a ticket of praise from God. He cares about the heart, particularly the faith that resides there. Faith is what matters for eternity. 

A.W. Tozer said, “The most important thing you think is what you think about God.” All the subjects of school studies are important because God created them, but study of the Creator is supremely more important. I intend to be more devoted to growing in my understanding of God than in previous decades. Settling for less is unacceptable.

3. Knowing the finish line is near is an asset. I haven’t been given a probable exit date by a doctor, but I’m more aware than ever that my time is short. 

One of the advantages of the empty nest is not being hindered by the indestructible feelings of youth. When I was young, it was easy to think I had plenty of time for everything I wanted to do in life. Now I see the end coming, and I’m more determined than ever to make the most of my days, to work harder at the relationships that matter most, and not to squander any of what God has given me to use for His kingdom.

I may not have a cap and gown for this graduation, but I’m preparing for the next season more seriously than I did any previous milestone in my life. And I want to challenge all you who are average like me to set aside mediocrity and laziness and instead become great for eternity.



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6 thoughts on “Graduation Thoughts for All of Us”

  1. KaRen KlettKnutson

    Thank you Barbara for being in tune for God to work through you. Such a inspiration to all of us. I’am 71 yrs old still learning everyday. We cannot go wrong if we’re turning our hearts toward God who began a good work in us. That empty next struggle seems like a blink of an eye. Now he’s allowed me to have relationships with 5 beautiful grandchildren. I’m grateful such a full life experience. Not to mention God found me a husband my heart loves. So very thankful that God does take care of His own. Thankful for shared experiences with Jesus at the center, it’s like we are all related some how. Only God would think of that. Thanks for ur ministry

    1. barbara rainey

      Thank you for being Legacy partners with us! We are grateful.
      Also grateful for the privilege of our ministry being used in your lives!
      To God be the glory!

  2. Thank you, Barbara, for your words of challenge and encouragement. Seven years ago my husband I moved from Indiana to SC. I was 49 1/2 years old. I left behind the ONLY state, county and town that I had ever lived in (apart from going to college). I left my family and a huge network of friends and support to go to a place where I knew NO ONE except my husband. I homeschooled my children for 20 years, was a children’s pastor for 20 years, and a 4-H leader for 25 years. Coming to SC meant looking for a way, and having the opportunity to plug into a new community. I started by volunteering my time in4-H. That turned into a part time program coordinator job, which, in February became a full time Administrative Assistant job in the same Extension office. At the age of 57 I started my FIRST full time (outside of the house) job! God knows what He is doing….all the time. We women really are NEVER too old, nor is it ever too late, to start a new career…to keep learning…to keep being stretched! Thank you for what you do to encourage women of all ages and stages of life! I’m enjoying 6 grandkids, running a mini farm, and living a full life.

  3. After 28 years of raising kids at home and lots of graduations – this year graduation in our house was mine – from seminary. After raising our five “arrows” I decided to return to academia to further fulfill my calling and become further equipped for more lay minister even as I approach the later years of my life.
    Learning is a lifelong process whether in a classroom or on the ever open “school of life.”
    From another “average” – I join you in your ongoing quest “to set aside mediocrity and laziness and instead become great for eternity!”

    1. barbara rainey

      WAY TO GO!!!
      So proud of you. God WILL use you in significant ways in this new season, just as He has when your ministry was with your children!

      1. Thank you Barbara! For all those years at home I felt so mentored and encouraged by you and Dennis via Family Life. That is why we consider it a joy and privilege
        to support the ministry as Legacy Partners. So grateful for your ongoing wisdom as those a few laps
        Further ahead in the race! We are overjoyed to be first time grandparents this summer. With your growing tribe of grands I think it’s time for you and Dennis to write a book on being “Mimi and Grandpa(?) and how to best encourage our adult
        children as they navigate the challenges of their twenties & thirties and then raise their families!
        Really am enjoying “letters to my daughter’s.” Your insights are so so valuable!

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