I delivered this speech at the May Baccalaureate ceremony of Elizabethtown College's Class of 2005 in Leffler Chapel. This speech is mentioned elsewhere on the site: 1 2 3 4

Friends, tomorrow has arrived. For so long, this weekend was an undiscovered continent on the calendar of our future life journeys. Now, we have a new future to chart. The squares fill up so quickly with appointments, schedules, work, and family. Remember to write in a little time for old college friends.

Take a step back. Imagine all the calendars of all our lives, assembled into a mosaic of our all our life efforts. What will it look like? The squares fill up quickly.

Tomorrow, we receive a precious rarity, one full of promise and open possibilities: our college diploma. We should be thankful; most of the world's people can't even get a decent loan. For our sake and theirs, we should think carefully about how we use our life treasures. The calendar fills up quickly. Let's plan.

It's not wrong to put ourselves first. It's necessary. Finding God is the best personal pursuit; our ideals of justice, mercy, humility, and love come from Him. I encourage you to search. Hebrews 11:6 states that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Don't give up on God. His comfort and endurance form a solid foundation for a life of true joy in service.

Friends, I want us to live well. I want to see us dream and do great things. Don't give up on others. Our motto is "Educate for Service." It's a hard motto to follow. Life gets in the way. So plan now to integrate service into your home and profession. And be yourself. We have so many different personalities, so many different skills. If we all plan and do our own unique part of service, the mosaic of our collective lives will indeed be bright. So much can be done. Some of us will donate money; right now, five dollars saves a malaria patient in Africa. Give your time; it is more valuable. Help your neighbor's children learn to read; run for local office.

There is one thing we can all give: love. We can host exchange students, send care packages, or sing Christmas carols. Serve by planning ahead. If you feel uncomfortable giving money to the homeless, pack granola bars on your next trip to a city. We don't need to cure cancer to make a difference. Sometimes we just need to make a meal or give a hug.

Serving others also means serving each other. We see this every day, in professors who go out of their way to help us, and in the cleaning and dining staff who make our lives simple and smooth. Be willing to do the thankless jobs. Remember to thank the people who do those jobs.

Ideals matter. We should stand by them. We should also carry them forward. We are not like a youth who dreams of someday running the Olympic relay. No. We have already begun to run. In the Olympics of life, we choose our race: If we compete against each other, we lose to our real opponents: greed, ignorance, disease, injustice, and poverty. The world will soon be in our hands. Our diplomas are a symbol of this trust; they are our baton in the relay of generations.

I would like to run well; I would like you to join me. I do not wish to drop, discard, or debase this trust. Rather, having run well, I wish to give the next generation a vibrant example of service. Let us not wander, sit, or straggle. As we have educated for service, let us now live lives of service. Let us run.