Sunday, June 7, 2009

for Graduation Speeches

I had the pleasure of meeting a truly wonderful family during the course of Vision Forum's Jamestown 400. This year the oldest daughter of the family graduated, and her brother was asked to give a speech.

It is, by far, one of the best graduation speeches I have heard in a long time...and not just because of it's brevity *smile* (I couldn't resist, Walter!) May God continue to raise up a generation that truly knows and understands Him. (Walter - go hug your Mom and Dad for me!!!)

Any way...please watch and listen. Below is also a transcript I made of the speech (any errors are solely my own!)

...and as Walter so succinctly stated may we all be "caught up in the glorious plan of God known as Providence."


Don't Believe in Yourself! | Walter Willis from Walter on Vimeo.


Now comes the part where I am supposed to give a little speech, and you never stop learning because this is the first speech I have given, so…I am proof that you never stop learning.

First, how about a hand of congratulations for all of the students. Everyone one of you has worked very hard to get to this point and achieve above and beyond. Well done. …and how about a hand of congratulations for the parents? You guys have given endless sacrifice and are still giving endless sacrifice to raise up the next generation for God’s glory. Thank you so much.

All right. I have a question. Anybody can answer this. Raise your hand if you have ever heard the phrase, ‘You just got to believe in yourself.’ ‘You just got to believe in yourself and everything will be all right.’ A lot of people. This is a phrase and idea that is plastered across every media outlet in America. It is the moral of almost every sports film and Diseny show. You’ve seen it before. The hero of the story finally finds his true self, shakes his fears and doubts, and saves the day. Believe in yourself, be true to yourself. It all sounds so good and inspiring, like what a graduation speech should be. But, I’m not your typical graduation speech guy. (Laughs) Instead, I’m going to expose the ‘believe in yourself’ philosophy for the destructive lie that it is.

Jeremiah 17:9 says this, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?’ God is clear that we should not look to our own selves for anything –
strength, wisdom, guidance, etc. We should not look to ourselves for the answers. For when we do we put ourselves in the place of God. That’s called idolatry.

Listen to these verses:

Proverbs 3: 5 – Trust in yourself with all your heart and lean not on God’s understanding..No. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on YOUR OWN understanding.

Psalm 37:5 – Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.

and this third one is pretty sobering –

Proverbs 16:25 – There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

The Bible doesn’t say anything about trusting in ourselves. Belief and trust implies faith. To believe something or someone means you have faith in something or someone. One of the big lies of this generation is that ‘I must have faith in myself in order to succeed.’ That’s not true. Jesus says that all things are possible to him that believes – but belief in whom or what? The Scriptures are very clear that we are to have belief and faith, not in ourselves, but in a Holy God and His saving and sustaining power. And that brings to me to one of my all-time favorite chapters in the Bible, Hebrews 11. I call it the ‘By Faith Chapter’. It’s where Paul outlines some of the heroes of the faith throughout the Bible.

Here just a few of them:

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not yet seen, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.

By faith the Israelites passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians, trying to do so, were drowned.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

Paul concludes this little history lesson with this, “And what more shall I say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” Wow, that’s a lot of stuff. Truly, all things are possible to them that believe, not in themselves, but in God.

I can add to this list names from the past 2000 years. People like Polycarp, Martin Luther, George Washington, Elias Boudinot, John Elliot, and the list goes on and on and on. Here’s what significant about these people. These men and women were caught up by something greater and bigger than themselves, much bigger. They weren’t concerned about believing in themselves, but rather in believing in their Lord, day-by-day, step-by-step, hour-by-hour. They were caught up in the glorious plan of God known as Providence. They knew that service to the Lord is not a sprint. It is not how God can make my life pleasant in the here and now. It is about a long race of faith that spans generations – serving and trusting God wherever He places me, confidant in the power of His grace, not my power, but the power of His grace, and the ultimate victory.

So, my conclusion would be just three points:

1. Don’t believe in yourself, but believe in the Holy Spirit who lives inside you.

2. Don’t be true to yourself. Be true to the One who is Truth, Jesus Christ.

3. Don’t seek your own glory, but actively seek the glory of God who created you and purposed your days before you were born.

May God bless you, and may you all – graduates, parents, family, friends – may you all persevere in this glorious race.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I am so honored! Glad that God used this to bless you.

Hah hah, brevity is good. :) I'll be sure to hug Mom and Dad for you!!!

God bless

Victoria said...

Thanks for speaking the truth so boldly Walter! Thanks for passing the truth on Mom!

Thank you God for bringing the truth of Your Word to light the world!

May we all speak so boldly, share so willingly, and begin to truly live by faith in God realizing that we are not great because of who we are, but rather, because we know the great I AM who lives within us!!!

Victoria said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Walter said...

Thanks so much Victoria and Camille! I am greatly honored, and humbled that you found this a blessing.

- Walter