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Monday, May 27, 2019

Welcome to the Real World

First this week, we should all note that it is Memorial Day. There is no way to fully honor the sacrifice of human life given by American service men and women. Dedication to our nation’s freedom and security has left many, many families bereaved. Thanks…seems such an incomplete way for acknowledging that dedication.

Moreover, simply having picnics, family outings, and a work holiday can also trivialize the much deeper significance of Memorial Day. I hope you’ll fly the flag properly. And for goodness' sake, let’s avoid saying, “Happy Memorial Day!” Dead service members and their families are not honored by a smiley face or happy greeting.

This is also the season for graduations. And those mostly forgotten graduation speeches. I’m confident my recent delivery to a pack of eighth graders at a Christian school will be remembered no differently.

In my presentation, to these 13-14-year-olds, I included “Five Ways Your Life is About to Change.” Yes, college years certainly change a person. Not all folks go to college. I believe those four years of traditional high school—from freshman through the senior year—are game changers. It was certainly true for me.

So here were some of my comments to these young students who are about to become high school freshmen. See what you think:

“By the time you graduate from high school, most of you will be considered adults. The next four years are going to help prepare you for that next chapter of life.

Here’s what you’ll be challenged by…

  1. Thinking at a higher level 
  • Pick your subject: Math. Science. Philosophy. Psychology. Sociology. Drama. Debate. Or any high school sport. You’ll need to apply more brainpower.
  • Now the real you gets tested. Your study habits are revealed. Your intellect begins to show. Are you really Mr. or Miss Smarty Pants? Will you be a smart athlete? Or just good in sports?
  • Finish high school and you have a good shot at taking the next part of life’s journey with some success.
  • Goof off, and your next steps in life get much more complicated.
  1. Excelling: finding and developing your sweet spot
  • Time to shine, my friend.
  • My sophomore year of high school changed my world. It started with a speech in English class. One class can change your life as well.
  • High school is where we find potential champions. Colleges can come recruiting. Scholarships can await you. 
  • People aren’t looking at your grade school or junior high achievements. It’s your high school performance.
  1. Driving
  • Plan to start driving during your freshman year of high school?
  • You’ll have a new freedom, but it’s also a risky adventure. Consumer Reports statistics show teenagers are involved in far more accidents than any other age group. Car crashes are no. 1 in taking the life of teens.
  • Inexperience behind the wheel and brain development are factors.
  • The crash rate for drivers ages 16 and 17 is almost nine times as high as that for middle-aged drivers. 
  • One parent said, 'There is nothing worse than the first time you see your teenager drive away in a car by themselves.' 
  1. Dating: another potential risky side of maturing into high school.
  • So what is the right age to date?
  • What kind of person are you willing to date? What kind of character do you expect from your date? What kind of character will YOU display?
  • Should girls ask guys out? Or just the other way around?
  • What about those relationships that are outside of traditional boundaries? Are they okay? Or beyond the borders? How do you know? You will be developing your beliefs on this.
  • Should parents have any say in who you date? (Check your parents for an answer on that.)
  1. Decision making. The possibility you’ll make choices…that are wrong.
  • Everything will get more complicated about life. 
  • What to wear. Where you can go. What does freedom really permit?
  • What about going to college? Which college? Attending college involves social skills—networking, meeting new people, coming out of your shell, and earning degrees to enable you to become a valuable contributor to our world.
  • Lack of education will most likely limit your future opportunities.
  • What about church? High school is when many teenagers shape decisions on what to believe about faith and various so called 'religious' beliefs. 
  • You’re going to have to find what you truly believe.

So as Mr. Mister sang…'Welcome to the real world.' I hope you enjoy the ride. And be a game changer.”

It should be noted that I closed my message with what I believe is the most important life decision to be made: that of becoming a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.

Coming to the end of life without hope for the future leaves a most unhappy soul. Hopefully, even an eighth grader can see the light on that.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Join in each weekday at 4 PM Central for Mark’s encouraging Facebook Live message on the workplace.

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