Charge to Vector

Charge to Vector

Commencement Speech for the 2022 Graduating Class
By Carey McPherson
Vector Academy graduating class
Well, this year is the first of many—the first graduating class of Vector and my first commencement speech. The only commencement speeches I’ve heard were boring and far too long, so I will try to avoid both of those.

Members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, honored guests, parents, and the graduating class of 2022, good morning, and thank you for letting me address you one last time.

It has been a joy to get to know each and everyone of you.

Since I’ve never given a commencement speech, I perused this year’s commencement speakers and was overwhelmed by some of the talent and great minds of those who gave them. Names like Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, one-time but should’ve-been-a-two-time-super-bowl-champion Russell Wilson, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. I feel slightly underdressed at this party.

But today you have with you the 2-time reigning Pull-up Champion of Stronger Man Nation. So there’s that.

As I listened to some of these commencement speeches that are happening across our great country by some of the most gifted people God has made, I couldn’t help but notice that their charges and exhortations were filled with cliche truisms and airy platitudes.

They promised the graduates that they could be anything they want to be (literally)…you could be a man, a woman, a lemming, or a left-handed relief pitcher for the New York Yankees. Whatever you want to be!

Indeed, these are very interesting times we are living in. Maybe you think I’m overstating my case, but in this 39-year-old’s memory…
  • we used to appoint Supreme Court Justices without having to ask them to define what a woman is.
  • we used to treat a regular flu season with some sense of normalcy, not like the the 4th horseman of the Apocalypse.
  • We used to allow only women to compete in women’s sports.
  • We used to cheer when a child was saved from slaughter. Now we riot that we can’t.
  • And we used to have some sense of what was right and wrong, what is moral and ethical, what is good and decent.

Some people might say this is the worst time in human history to be alive. I think it’s the best time. Some would say that this the hardest time to live the Christian life. Let me assure you, it is not. Those who have gone before would assure you that it is not. There are a cloud of witnesses in blood-stained garments, cheering you on, assuring you that the prize is worth the endurance.

Our culture is going through what seems to be a grand mal seizure, but it will pass. What you must do is live your life in a worthy manner, above the fray, above the cultural babel. God remains on the throne, and it is your responsibility to remember that, to live like it, and to proclaim that with all courage and compassion. This is a period. This is a phase, and this too shall pass. This is not the first time history has seen such cultural madness.

Running to compete in the Olympics is hard. Running and winning a gold medal in the Olympics is even harder. Athletes dedicate their lives to it and still most fail…and that’s with everyone cheering them on. Now imagine that all your training, all your preparation, is met with a crowd that is adamantly against you. They criticize everything you do, and they ridicule you for the prize you seek. They boo your progress and try to hinder you from attaining your goal.

That’s what it’s like to run the race of faith marked out before you. But by God’s sovereign design, by His providence and plan, you have the privilege of coming of age in a time when our kings and presidents, news anchors and celebrities, faculty members and college presidents, and all the rest of that lot, have all gone mad. But really, it isn’t all that new. That’s what’s been happening from page 3 of Genesis.

What a privilege to be alive at this time. What a moment in the blip of history to herald the message of our reigning champion, King Jesus. This is your moment to have faith that God will do great things in your generation.

And that’s why you chose Vector over another school. Your education was not provided to you in order to keep you from battle. Your education was given to you in order to fit you for the fight that is inevitably ahead. So make the best of it. The story would be very dull if there were no dragons to slay.

The feeling we often get is expressed well in Tolkien’s Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, as Frodo and Sam make their way to what seems to be an impossible journey to Mordor that will surely end in their deaths.

“I can’t do this, Sam,” said Frodo.
Sam: I know, Mr. Frodo. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

Class of 2022, this is God’s world, and there is good worth fighting for.

Here is my charge to you, class of 2022: 14 exhortations for living in the Kingdom of God. These are not in any order, nor are they by any means everything you need to know, but it’s a start. The rest, you can ask your mom.

1. Life is Hard, and it often isn’t fair. The sooner you realize this, the more forward progress you’ll make in life. You’ll stop feeling sorry for yourself, you’ll stop seeing yourself as a victim, and you’ll begin to contribute in positive ways to the world.

2. Think for yourself. Not to think is a bad idea, and if you don’t think, you’ll sell your mind to the highest bidder. Don’t let Fox News or CNN or Tik Tok or celebrities do your thinking for you. God gave you a mind, and that mind was meant to wrap itself around His truth.

3. Relationships are your best long-term investments. Life’s greatest rewards and greatest experiences and greatest blessings involve people. Your life will be shaped by them. Pursue the right ones, invest in the right ones, cultivate the right ones. God will do his greatest and deepest work in your life through relationships

4. Think Generationally. Start with the end in view. Don’t live for the now. Think about what you want at the end…what you want for your marriage, what you want for your relationships. Make your decisions in light of your grandchildren.

5. Obey God, leave the outcome to Him. The longer that you think you can control outcomes in your life, the more frustration you're going to experience in this journey of faith. Embrace the process. If you’re unsure of what to do, go back and do the last thing God told you to do. Opportunities don’t show up looking like opportunities when they knock, it might look more like routine obedience. And with obedience comes freedom…the freedom of not needing to know the outcome but trusting God. So obey God’s Word, obey your conscience, and let the chips fall.

6. Commit to and serve a Local Church. Don’t drift. Don’t make finding a good church the last thing on your list. Make it a focal point of your decisions. Serve her, love her, build her up. No wife was made beautiful because her husband complained and critiqued her. So, too, the Bride of Christ. Some people stop attending church because they had a bad experience…but just because you had bad meal at a restaurant doesn’t mean you should never eat again. You have to follow Jesus for yourself, but you can’t follow him by yourself. At least, not effectively. And the greatest hope for the world is still the Local Church.  

7. The words “I’m sorry, I was wrong, will you forgive me?” has the power to begin healing to the deepest hurt in any relationship. Use those words often and you will find your relationships thriving; use them sparingly, or not at all, and you find your relationships withering.

8. Strive for Excellence in the Small things. Most of life is often made up of the mundane: Going to work, changing diapers, mowing your yard, paying your taxes. And during those times it doesn’t feel like you’re changing the world. That’s because we don’t value diligence and fortitude anymore. But in your routine obedience, as you plant seeds of the fruit of the Spirit in every area of your life, you will find yourself carrying around heavy baskets full of fruit. That’s why Paul said in Galatians 6, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

9. Develop your Gift. God has made you uniquely and specifically for a purpose. God has deposited something in you, but it’s your responsibility to develop it. God’s gifts should come with a warning label: “Some assembly required.” Just because God put a gift in you doesn’t mean that it will come out of you. In order for the gift God put in you to make a difference in the world you have to develop that gift. So put your time in. God will give you everything you need, but he’ll expect you to put it together through the process of diligence. Sharpen your skill so you don’t needlessly hack away at a tree wondering why it won’t fall because you’ve forgotten how to sharpen your hatchet.

10. Work hard at being hard to offend. People are so easily offended these days. It’s almost as if they are looking for a reason to be offended. They’ll leave marriages, churches, relationships, and much more often because they didn’t talk to the other person or hear their point of view, or were offended because someone disagreed with them. Stick things out. Show a little grit. The world needs more stable people.

11. God is at work in the Hard. Just because you encounter something difficult or painful doesn’t mean God isn’t at work. The opposite is actually true. Just because it’s hard, just because it’s painful, just because it’s inconvenient, just because you don’t feel the love or passion you once had doesn’t mean you should move on from a situation or relationship. I used to admire most the people who had the faith to start things. But now I’ve come to admire even more the people who have the fortitude to stay.

12. The best version of you is the humble version of you. There have been plenty of irritating people that I’ve known, including myself, who are incredibly difficult to work with, to live with, to interact with, to be in community with, to do business with, until something changed: they humble themselves. And now some of those people are my closest friends. Humility will take you to places no other character trait can, because it is humility that allows other character traits to flourish

13. Your ability to see God at work in any and every situation (and particularly in your pain) will greatly increase your measure of joy. If you can learn to put that lens on, your life will be a sweet aroma to those around you. God is more interested in your character than your comfort. That’s what the Apostle Peter was getting it when he wrote “though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Or as Spurgeon once said, “I’ve learned to kiss the wave that dashed me against the Rock of Christ.” Suffering is a strange gift, so learn to put a bow on it and receive it as one.

14. Treasure the Word of God. Let the Word of God have it’s way with you. Let it shape you, let it conform you, let it heal you, let it comfort you, let give you confidence. Too many people have bled and died for dust to collect on your Bible. Ignorance to God’s word will lead to ignorance of God’s will. Within it lies the path to the eternal city.

Let me leave you with a word from the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 10
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For,
“In just a little while,
   he who is coming will come
   and will not delay.”
‘my righteous one will live by faith.
   And I take no pleasure
   in the one who shrinks back.’
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”

Congratulations, class of 2022.
Posted in
Posted in ,