Have you ever watched the face of a mother looking at their child who just graduated high school? As memories flood their mind of rocking their baby to sleep, they wonder “how did this all happen so fast?” Tears flow down their face because they knew this day would come, but they didn’t quite know how to prepare emotionally for it. At the same time, their hearts are just bursting with pride as they celebrate the fact that their child did it! Then, although they know it is time to let them go, anxiety rushes over them as all of their protective instincts go into full force wanting to keep their baby safe. Dads are usually a little more stoic, but nonetheless the love for their child causes their emotions to run rampant inside them as well. It is a pivotal time because in our culture we very much associate leaving high school to independence and adulthood.
Every time we do Senior recognition at the church, I have the same bittersweet emotions. I love these kids. I miss seeing them at church and going on retreats with them. My heart cares for them like they are my own. Not all of them go off to college, but even the ones that stay begin serving the church in a different capacity. Yet even though I always get sad, I love this moment. This is the moment that I knew was coming. I knew I only had a limited time with them. I knew the goal wasn’t for them to stay in youth forever. I knew that it was my job to prepare them for this season. My hope and prayer for my students is that they would leave with a love for the Lord and a foundation that prepares them to do the will of God for the rest of their lives. And just like parents, I never know if they are completely ready or not. But I pray that no matter where they are that the Lord would continue to guide them. And my job isn’t to recruit them to stay, but rather it is to prepare them to leave.
If you are a parent, grandparent, or any type of guardian of younger children, I ask you to think about what your dreams are for your little one’s life when they get out on their own. As a believer, I hope you want their hearts to be completely given to the Lord and His purposes. I hope you dream of them fulfilling their calling and making an eternal impact. And as you dwell on it, I hope you take responsibility to do everything you can to prepare them to leave well. Even if I never see it, I want my students to go to school, to work, to their friends and families, and to the ends of the earth making disciples. May our church be committed to preparing our children and students to leave well, and fulfill the mission that Jesus has given them.
It’s a joy to serve with you all,