“Don’t make yourself smaller in a misguided attempt to please God or men. Bring your full self to your whole life – that is a form of worship and thanksgiving. Nobody is helped by you becoming less than everything God created you to be.” – Sara Bessey
Today is Graduation Day in our small town. We have only one public high school and seniors graduate tonight.
When I taught at that high school, in the days immediately preceding graduation, students would bring their yearbooks to me and ask me to sign them.
In addition to writing down a brief, personal memory that we shared, I always liked to give a small snippet of advice. Something that they might actually read and think about, if not in the tumult before the end of the school year, then later, in a more quiet moment.
Over the years, the message I wanted to leave with students changed as I personally evolved. The quote above from Sara Bessey summarizes the advice I gave my students at the end of my career.
Sara’s words, more eloquent than mine could ever be, represent what I finally wanted to tell my students.
God created you to be your own extraordinary, unique, awe-inspiring, stupendous self. Be what God intended for you to be. Let His light shine through you and illuminate the world with your brilliance.
Just as no one is served by making yourself small to avoid intimidating insecure people, you do not build yourself up by tearing others down. It’s a false premise, a trap, to believe that self-confidence is a zero-sum game. You don’t get more assurance because someone else has less.
We are all served by being our own best selves and helping others to become their best selves as well. Supporting, listening to, and encouraging people we encounter not only helps them, but it also helps us to become better people as well.
That is the message I wanted to give to my students before I sent them out into the world. That is what I hoped to instill in them and tried to model for them during the year we were together.
So much wisdom to try to cram into a small space in the yearbook.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7.
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