It’s graduation season and this year its especially tough for me since my own daughter graduated from Scripps Ranch High School last week. It was a great day; she even wrote and performed an original song at the ceremony. One of my favorite things is listening to my daughter sing and don’t ask me where she got all her talent from. All I can tell you is that it wasn’t from me. In honor of the graduation of so many young people from high schools and colleges across the nation, I wanted to share with you a letter that I wrote to one of my good friend’s son in honor of his 13th birthday. His dad asked all the important men in his son’s life to write a letter with their pieces and I was honored to be included in that list and thought you might want to hear my words of wisdom to him since I think it applies to all of us:

  • Embrace your imperfection.  Go bowling once in a while just so you know that you’re not good at everything.
  • When you go away to college walk right past the guys offering you a sweatshirt to sign up for a credit card.
  • Try to make as many memories as you can with as few regrets as you can
  • It’s OK to be alone sometimes (except in the carpool lane).
  • Ask your parents opinions about important decisions.  Yes, they are hopelessly uncool, but they are both smart people and they believe in you more than any other two people in the entire world.
  • Dating the prettiest girl in the room isn’t always the smartest idea – unless your mother or my wife is reading this.
  • Be nice to animals. Especially chicken, steak and bacon.
  • There will always be someone taller, faster, stronger, smarter, richer, funnier and better looking. That shouldn’t stop us from being friends.
  • Put your phone in your pocket as you walk between classes.  If you don’t, you might miss the girl of your dreams and/or a lamppost.
  • Always order the small beverage at an all-you-can-drink place. It’s ALL-YOU-CAN-DRINK.
  • When you are with people (especially older people) ask them how they are doing and about their life.  If you do it soon enough they won’t have time to say “So how’s college” and “My, how you’ve grown.”

Just Say No

That was my advice letter, but did you know that there’s an advice letter in the Bible too? Well, there is; it’s 1 Peter 1 and it reads just like the letter I wrote to my friend’s son all those years ago. It’s just some old guy giving advice to some young people who may or may not be heading off to college and there’s one piece of advice that Peter gave at the Jerusalem Springs promotion Sunday 2000 years ago that still apply at Canyon Springs promotion Sunday today.  Check it out: So if you have your Bible open it up to 1 Peter 1:13.

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. –1 Peter 1:13

If ever there was a verse that applied to kids heading off to college, it’s this one right here. “Minds alert and fully sober.”  Is that a going off to college verse or what?  I think what Peter is trying to tell us is clear: Just Say No. Let me start by addressing the obvious.  College students tend to struggle with being sober. According to a national survey, almost 60 percent of college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month, and almost 2 out of 3 of them engaged in binge drinking. About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking. Other alcohol related issues include suicide attempts, health problems, injuries, unsafe sex, and driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as vandalism, property damage, and involvement with the police.

So kids, just say no. Actually, that’s not exactly what Peter said, is it? Peter says “stay sober.” Do you know what the word “sober” means? It doesn’t simply mean not drunk; it means sensible.  The reason that drinking is an issue is because it keeps you from being sensible; it blurs your judgment.  When you aren’t sober, you make dumb decisions like getting a Brad pit tattoo.

Friends Don’t Let Friends…

But there are a lot of other things that can impair your judgment, too. If you live in San Diego, you have the seen the freeway signs that flash “drinking isn’t the only thing that can be dangerous as you drive.  Meds can impair.”  Listen, when it comes to your sobriety and your ability to make a sensible decision there are a lot of decisions that can impair.

  • A single focus on money can impair.  When money becomes everything it doesn’t matter who you hurt or who you lie to, as long as you get it.
  • Over focus on your career can impair.  Now your relationships don’t matter, only your profession.
  • Sex can impair.  A drive for sex can take over your life.  I promise you that the older people in this room can attest to stupid mistakes they’ve made because they pursued sex instead of pursuing God.
  • Loneliness can impair.  Some of you girls will get so lonely for a boyfriend that you will trade your body just so you’re not alone.
  • Let me throw this in for the parents: Kids can impair.  You can get so focused on your kid, their school and their athletics and dance career that you don’t prioritize God.

Get Your Mind Right

This verse tells us to be sober. Be sensible.  According to this verse the only sensible way to get what you want in life is to “set your hope on the grace to be brought to you in Jesus Christ.”  Set your hope on Jesus. Pursue him. Don’t let anything sneak in to blur your vision or impair your decision making.  Be fully sober; great advice for college and beyond.