A Baccalaureate Address

For the Incline High School Class of 2018

1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brethren: only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh but through love serve one another.”

I graduated high school in northern Alabama and went off to college in western Massachusetts, thinking that a bright future was ahead of me and the sky was the limit.  I felt like I could (or perhaps should) conquer the world.  But in reality I left high school with unrealistic expectations for myself.  I tried for years to keep up appearances, to captain the ultimate frisbee team, to maintain a perfect GPA, to work a student job as many hours as possible, to write a senior thesis, to maintain relationships with friends, family, and a significant other.

Yet what I soon realized—whether or not I was ready—is that the lifestyle I led was (quite frankly) unrealistic; was unattainable; was impossible.  I had run myself ragged.  What I learned in those years of young adulthood—those first few turns around the sun on my own—is a strong dose of humility.

Now I’m not talking about insecurity: that feeling of not being good enough, or beautiful enough, or athletic enough, or creative enough, or smart enough.  But I am talking about real, authentic humility—like in our reading from 1 Peter 5:5.  One translation reads: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another.”  Real humility—the kind of humility Scripture espouses—is that feeling of knowing it is impossible to do it all.  It is impossible to be good at everything.  It is impossible to be in control of our lives.

Instead, praise God, we are fearfully and wonderfully made!  You are, each one of you, perfectly imperfect children of God.  And to practice humility, is to know this inside and out: to know your strengths and your shortcomings; to know your successes and your failures; to know your God-given talents and your innate limitations.  Humility is a moment of recognition, a moment of liberation, a moment of freedom from all the false assumptions of ourselves we carried once before.  It is knowing that you cannot be it all or do it all, but that God designed each one of you with your talents and your limitations, to bring some much needed healing to this beautiful yet broken world.

With humility, with real, authentic humility, you can finally have the freedom to love to the best of your ability.  That’s the kind of freedom Paul talks about in his letter to the Galatians.  And you my friends are about to be given a lot of freedom.  You are about to experience life like never before, to have the chains cut loose, to have the ability to make your own choices.  But that freedom is not meant to glorify yourself, or to overwork yourself, or to pretend that you yourself have all the answers.  But instead it is the freedom to bring your most beautiful and broken self to our beautiful and broken world.  You now have the freedom to love others like you’ve never loved before, from a place of real and authentic humility.

Go in peace.
Go in grace.
Go knowing you are perfectly imperfect children of God, and that is more than enough.

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