As I write this letter to you, I am filled with the joy and anticipation of seeing you go out into the world as a young man. I want you to follow the path that GOD had designed for you. I also want you to experience everything that you can, so you can see where GOD gifts you. It is my hope that you get there. Eventually, you will.
Rules always exist in EVERY society. It is how order is kept. GOD has instituted rules in order to keep us from ourselves. Failure to comply with rules says that you believe that you are above them.
As a young man, you want respect and acceptance of family, friends, acquaintances, employers, women and your peers. Acceptance is relatively easy: People will accept you because you are likable. Be likeable. Stay likable.
Respect, however, cannot be demanded: It must be earned. In the process of earning of respect, you develop a reputation. Your reputation tells others a message about you. You want that message to be positive. In order to achieve a positive reputation, you need to:
- Keep your word. This shows honesty and integrity. Jesus said it best: "Let your yes be yes...."
- Love Others. It's a difficult job to treat others well, when they've offended you. Do it anyway. Only an adult can master his emotions and take a verbal beating while retaining control.
- Serve Others. Everyone needs “a friend.” Maybe it's just a smile or a kind word or helping someone carry something that's too heavy.
- Be trustworthy. By keeping the trust of someone else, you're showing honesty, reliability and friendship. This, however, must be balanced by wisdom, as you must NEVER keep silent on crimes or abuse that is committed. Although you might lose a friendship if you have to do this, your conscience must be your guide.
- Treat others the way you want to be treated. This is the Golden Rule. Live by it. Even if you're not treated well in return, you'll have a clear conscience, because you did the right thing.
- Be worth more than what you're paid. When you are employed by someone, you are trading your time and skill set for their money. As long as an employer believes that he's getting the better part of the unwritten contract with you, he will see you as a bargain and you are employable.
- Don't always believe what others say about you. Others will inflate or deflate your image in order to get what they want to get from you or make themselves feel better, while trying to crush you. Believe in yourself, but make an honest assessment Based on what was said to you about who you are/how you treat others/whether you did enough.
- Know how differentiate between your allies and your enemies. Trust no one, until they prove themselves trustworthy. Your worst enemy will always look like a friend, only to stick a knife in your back and twist it. President Ronald Reagan had a policy with the Soviet Union: It was Trust but verify. It works and is a good idea.
- Never stop learning. Learning keeps your life unlimited. Choose to learn something new everyday, whether it be something learned from a book, on the job or by experience.
- Be careful about to whom you decide to give your heart away. This is the second most important decision you will ever make. If they don't share your core values, your relationship will be contentious and probably short-lived. The race of life is a marathon, not a sprint. You want someone with whom you'll share a life-long journey. You want a friend and ally when the lust dies down (as it always will).
- Follow GOD. You will NEVER go wrong or have regrets by following GOD. This is the most important decision you will make. It's only when you don't follow GOD that you go wrong!
- Do the right things for the right reason. This is the essence of leadership. Always be ready to explain why you did what you did.
- Always Be Ready. Because, when you least expect it, because Life Happens.
- Finally, Be Deliberate, Be Diligent, Be Safe. Being Deliberate means making the choice to do something. Being Diligent means choosing to do something well. Being Safe means not putting your security at needless risk.
As a graduate, you are conferred all of the rights and responsibilities that come with meeting the minimum requirements of graduation. Rights are easy. Everyone talks about them. Responsibility is more difficult. The mantle of responsibility doesn't have to be heavy. It's only heavy if you choose not to follow the rules. Those who purpose in their life to refuse the responsibilities will not only have trouble, but also chip away at the cultural norms.
Most importantly, welcome to the adult world. Be an adult. Accept responsibility and enjoy your rights.
Finally, I want you to know that I love you. You might ask how or why I, as a parent could love you. It's simple: I don't have a choice. That answer might seem flip, but you can't understand until GOD puts someone in your life (like a spouse, a close friend or a child) that you can't imagine living without. Then and only then can and will you understand what that means.