The experience of graduating from one level of life to the next is a wonderful triumph that should lead to the progression into our life's destiny. I reiterate that it "should" lead us into destiny, because unfortunately often times we are "graduated" prematurely without fully being prepared for the next level, which ultimately jeopardizes that purposed destiny. There is a distinct difference between "graduating" and being "graduated." When we are "graduating" it signifies that we have been sufficiently prepared and empowered mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually for the next level of life, which makes your graduation a natural occurrence. On the other hand, when you are "graduated" it signifies our premature uprooting and thrusting into the next level of life without the sufficient growth and preparation for not only survival but success on that level. Guess what, graduation isn't necessarily determined by a piece of paper.
Just this past Sunday, I was inspired to engage this topic more by a confirming message from my pastor, Bishop R.D. Jordan. It basically paralleled our youth and young adults that are transitioning into their next level of life to the biblical story of the Prodigal Son. Of course in that story the prodigal son anxiously requested his inheritance from his father so that he could go out and live the independent life that he had "heard" about. Unfortunately, the prodigal son had not been prepared enough to properly manage his inheritance and chose to live out of control or "riotously" in unforgiving foreign land. After time he found himself "broke" and "broken down" as a result of making unfocused decisions and finally realized that his only chance of restoration was to return to the place that he previously felt he was so ready to graduate from. He was so broken down mentally and emotionally that he was willing to live as a mere servant in his father's home! WOW!!!
Now, I know that many of us as youth, young adults have heard this story before, but have we ever truly examined and compared ourselves to prodigal son and the circumstances that he subjected himself to. Let's do this now, by asking ourselves two key questions:
What Mission are you on?
Who does your mission affect?
I recently spoke at an inner city middle school in Fort Worth , Texas to a group of 7th and 8th graders. In the midst of my program, a young lady raised her hand in frustration and said, "The only reason that I come to school is so that my momma will not have to pay a truancy ticket, other than that, school is just boring." I was taken aback by the conviction in her voice, because I could see a prototype mentality of the Prodigal Son in her. Moreover, many of her peers began to cosign on her statement. At that point, I realized that I was standing in an abundance of Prodigal Sons and Daughters, of course with no inheritance to their knowledge, but were anxious to be "graduated" from there current situation as students into the next level called "real life."
In other words their mentality was leading them becoming "drop outs." I knew immediately that I had to counter with something that would be intervening to the potential path of destruction that "dropping out" forces. So what came to me was to ask, "What mission are you on?" Many heads began to lower and responses of "I don't know" rang in through the air. Remembering, that the young lady had mentioned her mother, another question came to mind, "Well, who in your life do think your decisions and actions affect most.
Many responded with their mothers, sisters, brothers and other close relatives. This is where I was able to open those youthful eyes, because many of them, deep in their hearts, knew that they wanted to make their families proud but had not connected to the fact that it was there current actions in their youth that would help them bring that pride to their families. Furthermore, they didn't even know what year they were supposed to graduate from high school. To make a long story short, we were able to come to a couple of key understandings:
1. Even though their missions in life had not yet been clearly defined in them, it was the fact that they truly wanted to make their families proud that connected to their purpose for being a student. It only made sense that they put forth their best effort everyday, because the results of that best effort would ultimately satisfy their desire to bring pride to their families.
2. Education for them had been boring because they had been operating under the impression that their role was to simply sit and receive information, while the teacher just stood and delivered the information. But the resolution that we came to was that the students and the teachers were in an educational partnership. This meant that the students were supposed to be actively engaging education through discussions with the teacher on the lessons, reading and completing assignments above and beyond what is required, creating projects that cause them to bring solutions to real world problems, and ultimately preparing presentations to conduct before the class that will reinforce any lesson.
These two revelations or realizations were like lighter fluid that ignited fires in the minds of these future leaders. They began raising their hand to express the visions they had for their lives and the careers they could see themselves operating in. I reinforced my classroom partnership theory by using a young man who everyone viewed as the "class clown" as an example. "If this young man were to stand before you, and present a wonderfully prepared lesson that held your attention and actually help you comprehend the subject matter, how would you feel?" Everyone in the class, even the teacher, basically responded with the same answer, "Shocked, but inspired to step up." I concluded by letting them know that it would be that type daily valiant effort that would lead them towards the mission that would positively affect those they love.
So today, I ask you again, "What mission are you on?" Maybe you have that Prodigal Son mentality and you are ready to leap out the confines of your parent's arms and into the real world. But if you have not established a mission for being out in the real world, then is very likely that you will not be prepared and empowered to simply march through the battles that life will surely wage against you and you may find yourself in a state of destitution and mediocrity that you were never supposed to be in, based on the divine mission that you are supposed to be on. I am not saying that it is all your fault that you are not ready for real life but it is critical that now you take control of your life's mission. With no excuses, you have to line your daily actions up with your mission.
Which means that the decisions that you make from here on out must support your mission. It is not going to be easy by any means, as a matter you are going to make some silly decisions due to pressures and temptations that will not move you towards your destiny, but the beauty of a mission is that you can refer back and reconnect to it. You will always have haters and hurdles that challenge your mission focused decision making. Just as you would not allow anyone to come in your face, slap you upside your head and talk about your momma, don't allow the challenges of life to "punk" you out your mission.
There are far too many people that are connected to your mission and they are waiting for you to march. People's lives will be changed, families will be restored, communities will be rejuvenated, schools will be advanced, economies will be turned around, businesses will be created and expanded and nations will be born, when we decide to identify and march in full faith on the mission that God has given us. "We Got Next" in leadership and the world needs us to move as a movement so that the momentum can manifest our potential of greatness.
Remember, "We were not put here to toss pebbles, We were put here to move mountains." God bless you and keep marching.