7 Words of Encouragement for High School Graduates

Class of 2024, 

Congratulations on reaching a significant milestone—you’ve graduated from high school! This is a significant accomplishment and a signal that you are now on your own, untethered from your parents’ oversight, and embarking on the next stage of your life journey.

You’ve been waiting for this moment. For some of you, that’s a job and a place of your own. For many of you, that’s college. Regardless, you’re making preparations for what lies ahead. Fresh places and spaces. New challenges and opportunities. The chance to prove yourself and be your own man or woman.

As you reflect on what’s next, I offer seven words of encouragement regarding this next leg of the journey. Some of what I offer is exactly what you’d expect, but other aspects might take you by surprise. Regardless, taken together, these seven suggestions are intended to nudge you in the direction of a life that is happy, joyous, and free:

1.  God’s will can be trusted (but self-will cannot). Having graduated from high school, you are now the primary human decision-maker in your life. You have a level of freedom you’ve not yet experienced–something you’ve always wanted. Now that you have it, use it well. Trust the God who created the universe rather than leaning on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6). If you use your freedom to trust God rather than rebel against him, you’ll flourish rather than flounder and experience joy rather than misery.

If you use your freedom to trust God rather than rebel against him, you’ll flourish rather than flounder and experience joy rather than misery.

2.  Your weekends could be pretty awesome (if they culminate in this one thing). Now that you are legally free from your parents’ authority, I suspect you look forward to handling your weekends however you please. No curfew. No limits. That’s all good and well, but may I suggest that perhaps the most critical decision you make on the first weekend after graduation is whether you get up and go to church on your own. This decision is likely the surest and most tangible indication of where your life is ultimately headed.

3.  Good friends are important (by which I mean not only people, but books). If I want to know what type of man or woman you’ll become, I can take a look at two things and make a pretty good guess: the kind of people you hang out with and the type of books you read. So, whether you are entering college or the workforce, I encourage you to build a network of solid Christian friends and a shelf full of solid Christian books.

4.  A Christian worldview is essential (but so are Christian habits). You probably are well aware that the Christian faith equips you with a worldview that helps you distinguish between true and false, good and bad. That’s especially important in our secular age, as you interact daily with people whose “takes” and “spins” on life are unchristian and even anti-Christian. Yet, it is equally important to understand that we are shaped not just by thoughts but by habits as well—spiritual habits, study habits, exercise habits, social habits, and more. In fact, your habits shape you just as much as your worldview, so I encourage you to form habits that align with your faith and help you flourish.

5.  A high GPA is nice (but wisdom and maturity are even nicer). Some of you are high-caliber students, driven to achieve a 4.0 GPA and graduate with honors. That’s commendable. But I encourage you not to be so fixated on academic recognition that you forget about your personal formation. So, take a page out of King Solomon’s playbook and ask God to give you the type of wisdom that makes you mature beyond your years.

6.  A lucrative career is optional (but a vocational calling is not). You’ve been advised to find a career path that will pay the bills and maybe even make you wealthy. There’s nothing wrong with accumulating wealth, and there’s everything right about carving out a viable career path. But Scripture teaches that a job is a divine calling, so I encourage you to seek God’s guidance as you discern your giftings and shape them into a career path with an overarching kingdom purpose.

Fear is a deep and powerful influencer of human behavior, so be careful to fear God more than man.

7.  Fear is a deep and powerful influencer of human behavior, so be careful to fear God more than man. On your college campus or at your workplace, you’re about to experience an unprecedented level of peer pressure. You will be tempted to fudge your Christian convictions to avoid social repercussions. Don’t do it. Stand firm. You’ll never regret seeking God’s approval over the approval of your classmates or work colleagues.

As you stand on the threshold of what promises to be an exhilarating chapter of your life, I hope you’ll take encouragement from these seven suggestions. Embrace your newfound freedom with responsibility and discernment. Cultivate relationships and habits that elevate you, seek wisdom and maturity over mere academic accolades, and understand your vocation as a calling that transcends mere job titles. Above all, let your fear of God be the compass that guides your decisions, overshadowing the fear of man. Do these things and you’ll experience lasting happiness, true joy, and real freedom.


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