To the Graduates of 2022

To the Graduates of 2022

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To the graduates of 2022. Let me begin by expressing my sincere thankfulness for the honour to address this class of graduates. Today is a big moment. Look around, breathe it in, enjoy it. We should learn while we are young, what I have since learned as a parent, as a teacher, as a coach, and in my work – Moments matter. It is the fool who doesn’t embrace this truth. Moments really matter. 

Every moment provides you with the power to change the trajectory of a life, a career, a relationship. So, mindful of this and the next 4 minutes that I have been gifted to speak to you, I want you to know as you leave LCS that moments are the greatest gift the maker of your life has given you. 

A wise thinker once encouraged his readers sometime long ago, to think about moments like rocks in your pocket. You can feel their weight, but you don’t know how many God placed in there. You don’t know, until you take one out and hold it in your hand, if it is a tiny pebble or a heavier stone. The weight in your pocket feels lighter later in life, and some begin to realize way too late just how much to cherish them, and you remember with vivid clarity, sometimes regret, which is okay, how the rocks you already took out were spent. 

As time passes, we take one and then another, out of our pocket. When they’re gone there’s no way any of us can add more. 

This moment, tonight, for me, is more personally meaningful than most. I will cherish the rock I took from my pocket this school year and remember all the emotions and triumphs and challenges of 2021-22. My oldest son is graduating. Like you with your own kids, I couldn’t be more proud of who God has shaped him into or love him more.

Right now, in this moment, we are celebrating a group of outstanding graduates. A group I’ve personally seen overcome great challenges, set course on ambitious dreams, grow in Christian character, service and knowledge of God, and emerge today as a people equipped and ready to pursue excellence and success as Christ defines it. That is of course why this school you are graduating from exists in the first place. 

Graduation is a symbolic rite of passage where you take the current rock you are holding, and you will purposefully or unintentionally roll it in a particular direction. You’re now getting ready to courageously take that next rock out of your pocket to feel its weight, to let it go and to see where it lands. 

Will it fall haplessly from your hands to the ground, or will you be intentional about how far you toss it in the direction of your aspirations and the course God has set for your life? Some of us will hold it carefully, cautiously and not want to let it go, though we must, because we’re afraid of what might happen when we release it. We do this because deep down we know that none of us can control every outcome or result. 

Others might run off straight to the beach, spilling their pockets along the way and start skipping rocks on the waves without an intentional thought in the world how they’re using their rocks or how quickly they’re tossing them away. You know who that person is, but you should wait at least 30 seconds before you stare at him. 

So grads of 2022, are you letting that rock go today, as you leave LCS secure in the knowledge and confidence “that He who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion.” Will you use that rock in such a way that you “may abound in love, with knowledge and discernment – that you may chose what is excellent” in deciding where you toss that rock in the direction of success?

So where do you toss it? What direction? The scriptures tell us that you must learn to discern what is excellent. How do you know? What should do you do next? What is success?  Many  of us get this part wrong and waste so many of those precious stones! 

If I am to use the precious rock I am letting go today, and use it with intentionality, in the last opportunity we have to speak to you as students of this school, it would be to ensure that if you remember nothing about this moment, that you do remember this:  excellence and success are not destinations. They are not results. They’re not an end itself. Success isn’t a dollar figure, a degree, a championship, an object or a lifestyle. Excellence and success are the cumulative weight of moments well spent, added up together into an immovable pile. 

No one ever achieved excellence or success in their business, relationships or passions by focusing on the result. You don’t control the result. You don’t even control the conditions: which might be your popularity, your personality, your wealth, your status, your connections, your giftings. But, don’t let that discourage you. Those things are not the currency of God anyway, even though we chase them. Moments – the rocks in your pocket today – that is the currency of God. How have you spent them so far? How will you spend them tomorrow? 

Philippians is like a cheat code for life. Even if you’ve never read the Bible, go check it out. It is a short little letter about how to live a life of excellence and success. It talks about how we use moments and the writer encourages us to use them wisely. The wisdom of the ancients confirm what it took us 2000 years of research in psychology, sociology and the science of cognition to verify: daily decisions, mindful of little action by little action, living true to your core values, is what success looks like. How you spend your moments reflects your core values. How you spend moments will define your self-worth, happiness and health. 

We want you, the graduates of 2022, to know and discern this: success is a behaviour. It is what you repeatedly do every day. 

If you take care of the behaviours, if you establish habits that point in the direction of your goals, little by little, the results will take of themselves. 

Your life will or will not reflect a commitment to excellence and success based on how you spend your moments. Too many of us worry about the outcome or result of our performance, or decisions. Take care of the behaviours, roll the rocks in the right direction, do the next right thing, and even if at first they don’t seem to do so, those rocks will roll and end in the place that God wrote on your heart. 

So, as I bring this moment to a close, let me mine Philippians, this manual for life, and ask you to consider today, on graduation day: 

Will you pursue humility, counting others more significant than yourself? That is what success looks like. 

Will you look out for the interests of others and do the next right thing, even if it brings you discomfort? That is what a moment of excellence looks like.

Will you enter into the unavoidable conflicts and adversity of your life with curiosity, not grumbling, instead seeking creative solutions? That would be a posture of success. 

Will you rejoice and pursue challenges with courage, even when you are fearful? That is excellence. 

Will you do the little things every day – kindness, discipline, prayer, acts of service? That will accumulate quickly into a life of success. 

Will you stand firm in the truth in the little moments, even when no one is looking or when you’re wrong or when the world around you bends and distorts what is right? That is excellence. 

Will you count gain as loss, hold on to your material possessions lightly, and act daily with generosity and hospitality? That is success. 

Will you replace anxiety with thanksgiving? That is excellence. 

Will you resist the allure and temptation of this culture of distraction, comfort, and self-promotion, and use your precious moments for what really matters in people’s lives? – Wow, you would truly model success. 

You are what you repeatedly do,

…imperfections, failures and hiccups are expected and necessary. They don’t define you. They make you. Many people achieve things, recognition, or wealth for fleeting moments, … but they never reach any level of excellence or true success… Why? Because grads, success is not a destination. Excellence is not an outcome or result. No pebble alone, taken from your pocket, will ever build a foundation of success and excellence. The foundation is the cumulative weight of your moments well spent.

Each of you are unique. Talented. Loved. Created for a purpose. What ever you feel or think about yourself today, you have a pocket full of rocks with unimaginable promise and potential.

(slow) How will you use them? 

I can’t wait to see. 

Let them roll! 

Let the momentum of your small daily choices add up to such a pile of stones that when the challenges of your lives threaten to derail you from your journey – and they will – but you, the LCS graduates of 2022 will be able to boldly, courageously and confidently say: “Here I stand. I can, and will do, no other. God help me. Amen.” 


Grads of 2022, 

It is my privilege tonight to speak to you on behalf of your LCS Faculty.

What a joy it has been for us to accompany you on your high school  journey. And finally, after so many assignments, assessments, projects and the online classes of 2020…..and perhaps even more importantly laughter, conversations, athletic competitions, music practices, and school trips, our time together comes to an end. While we hope that many of you will come back to visit, say ‘hi”, or maybe even join us one day, we also recognize that for many of you, your path will take you elsewhere. The community that has journeyed together this past year will not be together again after next week, as you each step towards new challenges and opportunities for growth. We celebrate you and encourage you, but will also miss each of you. 

In my own journey, the image of an hour glass has helped me to understand and embrace change and transition. The neck of the hour glass can be tight, uncomfortable, strange and even restrictive at times. To fit through, there must be a letting go of what has been in order to make space for what will be. This does not, however, equate with forgetting. God uses our experiences to shape who we become. Right now, you are leaving familiar high school routines and patterns, to make space for what God has for you next. The years ahead will bring further opportunity for you to explore, create, grow, and ever more fully discover your gifts, abilities, and vocation. We are so grateful for our time with you, and pray each of you will fully embrace yourself, and who God is calling you to become. 

Before I continue further, I would like to read a favourite poem of mine by Robert Frost; familiar to many of you, I am sure.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Every day, we make many decisions. In the coming months, you will be making significant decisions about what the next stage of your life will look like, who you will spend time with, and what your priorities and focus will be. None of us can travel every path. We pray you will deeply consider your gifts, abilities, and passions, listen carefully to God, and be true to yourself, as you discover the path that He has for you. Sometimes the way ahead seems obscured; sometimes we wander in a different direction. Jesus is faithful. He is our shepherd; a guiding compass who will always help us to get back on course, if we stray from the path or find ourselves unable to see beyond the next few steps. He will always be with you.

You will also have the choice, daily, to either strive to build your identity, or to embrace who Scripture says you are. This is what I mean by this:

When our identity is formed primarily from our external achievements, it can lead to relentless striving and drivenness. The effect is that self acceptance and identity become linked to achievement, creating an endless cycle of striving. For most of us, there will always be someone with higher grades, who is a better athlete, who is more successful in business, who has more money….and the list goes on. 

But in contrast to this, if we start from a position of acceptance, it changes everything. In the words of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. You are beloved children of God, created with purpose and as exactly as he intended you to be. His incredible love for you is a gift you can accept, but not earn. When acceptance of your true value and worth becomes the basis for your identity, it frees you to create, to achieve, and to grow. The difference, here, is that your achievements become your gift back to God; the using of your talents an expression of gratitude, and not the basis for your identity and self-worth. We pray you will surround yourselves with people who love you and remind you of your value, help you to understand your true identity, and encourage you to find the path that God has called you to. 

In this we encourage you to aim for excellence in all you do, but to release yourself from perfection. Each of you has value beyond words to God and to your family, friends, and community. You are more than enough, just as you are. Each of you has so much to offer and there are many ways in which you will contribute. We encourage and celebrate you today as your years at LCS come to a close and you ‘lean in’ to the next stage of your journey. We are all very proud of you!

As described so clearly in Matthews 5: 14-16, “”You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

And finally, I would like to bring us back to the theme verse for your grade 12 school year, Micah 6:8. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what dos the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

In all you do, we pray that you continue to grow in your understanding and love for God, that you continue to love people and serve with compassion and humility, and that you are true to who He has created you to be, using your gifts and talents generously as you find your ‘road less traveled’; the path God has for you, and you alone. 

We are proud of you. We celebrate you today. We will encourage you always. Blessings to you, Grads of 2022, as the next stage of your journey begins!

Thank you.

Alexis Pelling