Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


A friend sent me this link last June.  It sat in my inbox for 4 months.  Probably because I generally dislike graduations.

Long lines. Endless lists of names. Clapping and attempts to out hoot the next guy’s family for who is the coolest graduate. The hot sun in little or no shade.  Mostly an uncomfortable and forgettable experience filled with long speeches and cliches.  If I go as a pastor to them, it’s super easy to be a name in the crowd and not even be noticed.  Parking is ridiculous.  Many times you need a ticket that is all but impossible to get. Families that I know are hard to find. We have students from at least 9 high schools. That’s a lot of ceremonies.   Perhaps if I was in the one stop town where there’s one ceremony, it’d be different.  But I’ve never been a pastor in one of those situations.

I never miss a graduation party I’m invited to though.  Just the ceremony.  At least at the graduation parties I can say hi, take a picture, share a gift, speak a word of encouragement and meet the family, hang out for a few, etc.  At the graduation ceremony however I smile, move through the crowd to try and find students I know, take pictures, and celebrate with them as best I can.  But I’m pretty sure they’ll forget i was there in like 10 minutes and I’ll commit endless hours to being there.

Lest you think I’m just a bitter youth pastor, I even missed the one from my own 4 years at U.C. Davis because I graduated a quarter early and couldn’t see why I should drive back to do the above paragraphs.  My mom is still mad at me for that.  I would skip the one from seminary this June however they have required it as the final pre-requisite for graduation and my wife is making it mandatory too. Booo!  I say let’s ditch it and go on a cruise.

So anyway, I watched this link today.  The truth is, if all graduation speeches were like this one I’d probably never miss one.  It’s funny, wise, whimsical, not too long, and insightful. This one is worth watching once a month at least… or whenever you feel like sitting around wasting your life, patting yourself on the back for being the best in the world, or wallowing in self-depricating acts of depression due to losing the American game I like to call “compareanoia” which I find myself sucked into all too often.

So, if you have 12 minutes and 46 seconds, go back in time to high school and give this speech a listen.    1,736, 321 people already have when I posted it.  Maybe you’re one of them.  If not,  then put on a cap and gown if you want and turn up the volume.

Seriously, sit down and enjoy the speech you likely didn’t get, or won’t get, at your graduation.  It’s so worth a few minutes.


  1. I would have given anything to have had a graduation speaker like this. My graduation isn’t exactly one of my fondest memories. Being squeezed into a hall with a load of other graduates on the hottest day of the year, burning up in those truly stupid robes, listening to speakers that ranged from the painfully dull to the clearly-from-another-planet. Seriously. That’s the only way I explain the content of his speech. To hear him tell it, we were the best thing since sliced bread, everything was fine, the world was our oyster.

    Because, of course, everyone loves to feel thoroughly patronised at their graduation.

    But anyway, my favourite lines from this speech are these ones:

    “Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” That one soundbite “You’re not special” was always going to be seized on by the media but those mountain lines don’t sound like “Don’t even bother because you’re worthless” to me. That sounds like “Work hard and do it for the right reasons”. And that’s a message I can get behind. Become a scientist or a doctor but do it because that’s what you want to do. Don’t do it because those are the graduate jobs that attract the admiration, the approving looks, the prestige. Don’t aspire to be special. Of course, there’s idealism there, it’d be a pretty boring speech if there wasn’t. Presumably, those students are intelligent enough to look at his overall message and take the parts that are relevant to them. That’s all anyone can do with any advice they’re offered.

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