A Simple but Important Message for High School Graduates

It has been 25 years since I graduated with a Bible degree from Freed-Hardeman University. It has been 29 years since I last set foot on the campus of Irmo High School in Irmo, South Carolina. Time really does move swiftly the older we get.

This past Sunday I turned 47 years old and I had a very beautiful day filled with worship, family, friends, and a remarkably scrumptious chocolate mint cake that my wife made for me. It tastes even better than it sounds!

Sunday night, I was granted the honor to speak to a group of high school graduates at our congregation in East Tennessee. They are a diverse group with diverse interests and with diverse plans for college and the future. I know several of them well and my heart yearned to tell them something that they would remember that would serve as a beacon for their future and an anchor for their faith.

Having spent time as a youth minister, campus minister, preacher, and college professor (plus being a father of four) I had lots of thoughts swirling around in my head. However, my allotted time to speak was five minutes! Five minutes to speak truth to teenagers. What a task!  

Here’s what I shared with them and I humbly ask that you share it with others. Cling to Jesus! Cling to Jesus! Cling to Jesus!

Before there was ever a Vacation Bible School song called, “The Wise Man Built his House upon the Rock”, there was a portion of a sermon by Jesus that talked about it. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus said the storms will come so build your house on the Rock.  Jesus is the Rock!

Before anyone graduated from high school, the Hebrew writer encouraged a group of truly persecuted Christians to consider Jesus and to look to him. He urged them to “fix your eyes on Jesus”! That message has not changed. He’s still the Rock to build your life upon! He’s still the One to fix your eyes upon if you hope to navigate life successfully and make it to eternity with your soul intact.

We live in a world that wants nothing more than to drag people away from Jesus. Young people, sadly, leave the faith in droves after high school. The reasons are many but two stand out:  1) Young people lack their own faith. Parents and churches need to train their young people to stay strong and faithful and to develop their own relationship with Jesus; 2) the world and its ways are enticing. We are continually warned about this in Scripture and we need to make sure our young people keep their eyes wide open (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Young people, whether you attend a Christian college, enter the workforce, or go to the most secular school in the country…cling to Jesus! Whether you are surrounded by believers or surrounded by heathens…cling to Jesus! Whether you attend daily chapel, worship every Sunday, and Bible classes in-between or you live in a far off place away from family and solid spiritual connections…cling to Jesus!

No one else died for you but Him! No one else cares for you like Him! He is as real as real gets and He is as true as true can be…cling to Him!

Before the first Sunday morning comes around in August or September when you find yourself in a place by yourself…have a plan as to where you will attend worship. Ask your parents, your preacher, your youth minister, or your elders to help you. If they won’t or can’t help you then send me an email. If you ever start to waver in your faith or struggle to move forward in your relationship with Jesus, please contact me. I will help you. (You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook at the buttons below.)

One more thing: Cling to Jesus! You will be glad you did. I know I am.

Timothy (Tim) Gunnells started his blog "Desert Spiritual" while living and ministering in the desert in Arizona. He knows the world in which we live is a "dry and weary land where is no water" and souls are thirsting for God (Psalm 63:1).Tim currently lives with his family in East Tennessee. He is available for retreats, leadership development seminars, and church consulting. He enjoys hiking, singing, spending time with his family and friends, and blogging about Christian spirituality, culture, and life in general. He may be reached at timothygunnells@gmail.com.

  1. Reply
    Catherine Melton May 9, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Wonderful message for graduates as well as all young people.

  2. Reply
    Jim May 12, 2017 at 5:41 am

    Thank you Timothy for such a short, simple, and sound message to our future church. It is so vital to keep our youth clinging to Jesus.

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