(ABP) — Spring commencement exercises at most schools around the United States are now complete, and new graduates and their well-wishers heard words of wisdom from scores of speakers at colleges, universities and professional schools across the country. Associated Baptist Press, in cooperation with the communications staffs at a broad sampling of Baptist colleges in the United States, offers some of the nuggets of wisdom from speakers at graduation ceremonies and baccalaureate services this spring below.
Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Ky.:
“We’ve been given an opportunity to be successful, to achieve greatness and to make a lot of money, but the Bible says to be servants.”
— Former U.S. Rep. Ron Lewis (R-Ky.), a member of the school’s board of trustees.
“Today is a good day to take time to express your love and appreciation to those who have sacrificed along the way to help you reach this important milestone in your life.”
— Campbellsville President Michael Carter.
Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, N.C.:
“Never stop learning, because the day you stop learning is the day you become ignorant. Today we are all equipped with the power of knowledge, and it is up to each and every one of us to decide how we will use this powerful tool.”
— Student speaker Wes Skidmore, addressing his Mars Hill classmates.
Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.:
“It takes courage to believe in yourself, to be able to adjust and adapt to an ever-changing world, to take risks knowing that you’ll sometimes fail. You must have a strong belief in yourself to do the right thing, even when faced with criticism.
“Life is all about trade-offs. Have the courage to make tough choices.”
— Pam Siddall, president and publisher of The Birmingham News.
Baylor University in Waco, Texas:
“But after the glories of the baptism, Jesus was immediately driven out into the wilderness. When you walk off this stage diploma in hand and walk out of this arena, you will head out on a new venture in life, and it may seem like you are walking off into a wilderness. For Jesus, it meant 40 days and nights without food — I hope that will not be the case for you — and at the end of this period Satan shows up and offers exciting possibilities that seem so attractive. But Jesus faces down the enemy that haunts all of us — the enemy that vies with God's will through lying words that sound religious. That is the way evil is. It often comes at you when you are faint and weary and always disguises itself. To hook the pious, evil always cloaks itself with piety. “
— David Garland, dean of Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, who is scheduled to complete a term as the university’s interim president next month.
Mercer University in Macon, Ga.:
“From this experience I learned that misfortunes and unanticipated redirections again, looking back, reveal God’s hand…. Adverse circumstances often lead to unexpected blessings. In these serendipities of life, I see God’s grace. My heart, my roots, are in this university and the Baptist principles of religious freedom I came to appreciate here.”
“Early in my life there was a feeling that God was calling me, and it might be to ministry. Indeed it was, but it was not a preaching ministry, but rather a healing ministry. I encourage you to find your own calling and use that calling to minister to others.”
“Don’t let your life become stagnant. Don’t let temporary setbacks throw you. Continue to grow and learn. Think for yourself, find usefulness and vitality in your life’s work. Enjoy being surprised by God. He often leads in unexpected ways and to unexpected places.”
— Retired physician Drayton Sanders II, who left Mercer as an undergraduate with only two courses remaining to fulfill his graduation requirements to go to medical school. He returned after retirement to complete his coursework and graduate with the Class of 2010.
— Compiled from reports by Joan McKinney of Campbellsville University, Teresa Buckner of Mars Hill College, Mary Wimberley of Samford University, Lori Fogleman of Baylor University and Mark Vanderhoek of Mercer University.