It’s mid-term grade time.
"Why?” you ask, as it’s not really in the middle of the term, anyway or anyhow. Well, it is what it is because educators believe any early warning system that can help students realize that there’s plenty of time to right the wrong, buckle down and turn the boat around is good for the soul. Some may feel early warnings put too much pressure on an already overloaded schedule for students who have trouble making the transition from high school to college. That may certainly be true. However, adjustment has to begin sometime, and that sometime is now.
I remember a young man who met me after class and shared some of his greatest worries about this whole education process. He spoke of being unprepared for the level of professional development demanded and the almost overwhelming workload each class required. He told me what so many of his friends back home said, “You’re not the same guy we knew back in high school. Why don’t you quit thinking you’re someone better than us?”
The list went on and on. He got really quiet, looked up to see if anyone happened to overhear our conversation and said, “You know what the worst thing is? I have to grow up.”
I have never forgotten what he said.
I’ll be back in just a moment.
I never remember saying his same words, but I do remember one pivotal time in my life when I made that decision. I had enlisted in the U.S. Navy for a four-year hitch. I was part of a company of young men — most like me — who couldn’t believe we had made such a dumb stupid agreement to give up a life of pure freedom and put our new lives in the hands of some drill instructor who called us unrepeatable names, destroyed our teenage innocence, made us follow orders that didn’t make sense, eat food that our moms would have thrown away, share a bathroom with 50 strangers and be out of the sack and marching in the rain or snow around five or six in the morning! In that first week of boot camp, we lost at least six or eight guys who all went AWOL, one who went a bit crazy and two others who were arrested and put in the brig. I figured I had two choices: quit or change my attitude. I woke up the next morning with this thought, “Thousands of guys just like me made it through this training, and I can do it, too!” Everything changed almost immediately. I began to grow up.
Back to the young student.
Here’s what I shared with him. Please know that I am and will always be a pastor, but at that moment, I am a teacher and so acted accordingly. I talked about a book that changed my life and shared this thought. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
My advice was simple, “Today is a turning point in your life. You must make a choice. Think it over and choose. I know you’ll do what’s best for you.” He did!
God doesn’t give out mid-term grades. However, God does have a lot of expectations. My first thought every morning is, “This is the day that the Lord has made and I rejoice and am glad to be here!” His Textbook is on my desk and I believe He expects me to read from it, be encouraged and apply the teachings and principles every waking minute. I don’t believe He expects me to memorize every word, but I should be able to find most everything I need with a bit of work.
One day — metaphorically speaking — I will walk across that stage in cap and gown and get my diploma. Everything after that will be out of this world!