Commencement—Only the Beginning

Sage advice from a master educator

Commencement ceremonies filled with relieved graduates, proud parents and tired faculty are occurring on campuses across the nation. Distinguished speakers are imparting wisdom to departing students. Education is being celebrated. But how many really know what true education is?

The late Herbert W. Armstrong was a master educator. He was an accomplished writer and speaker. Early in his life, Mr. Armstrong learned that education is not something you go out and get. He learned that true education is a way of life.

A proper education is difficult to acquire. The following seven points distill Mr. Armstrong’s experience and knowledge of true education. Consider these points to becoming properly educated:

1) Build a solid spiritual foundation. We were put on Earth to become educated in spiritual and material knowledge. Unless proper spiritual knowledge is our foundation in life, everything will be established on the wrong premise.

In Matthew 7:24, Christ gave His disciples knowledge, but then He admonished them to go out and apply it. Those who do He likens to a man who built a house on a solid-rock foundation—immovable during a severe storm. Those who don’t He likens to a man who built on a foundation of sand. The consequences of building on a wrong foundation are deadly.

To be a real success, our pursuit after material knowledge must be based on the right, immovable spiritual foundation.

2) Capture the vision of the kind of person you would like to become. Without vision, people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Seeking first God’s Kingdom is the ultimate vision. But lesser goals can also be attained through right priorities and hard work. Understanding your role as a man or woman should be foremost in your mind, since the strength of a nation depends on solid individual families. For the man, determining your life’s vocation or profession is critical to being the kind of provider God intends you to be.

3) Prepare and work to meet your goals. It’s been said that opportunity favors the prepared man. Proverbs 24:27 says, “First work your farm, and till the soil—then marry and set up house” (Moffatt). Notice the priorities. Some men have set out with every passion to find that special someone, spending little effort to secure a good job or to better themselves educationally. Heed the proverb!

Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Missing Dimension in Sex, “The years between ages 16 and 25 are the vitally important years of adult preparation for life’s work. These are the crucial years of preparation. During these years the mind is capable of acquiring faster than at any other stage of life the advanced knowledge needed before beginning one’s adult career—whether it be business, profession, occupation or marriage.”

4) Learn to be humble like God. The God of this universe wants you to be happy, healthy and prosperous (Matthew 6:33; John 10:10; 3 John 2). We should want this all-powerful Being on our side! Notice how we can do that: “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). In Isaiah 57:15, God says He dwells “with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit.”

To listen to and heed the wise counsel of older, wiser individuals takes humility. Diligently obeying God’s laws concerning success in business and family requires even greater humility. One fundamental problem with modern education is vanity. Humility, on the other hand, will pave the way for a right, God-centered education.

5) Whatever career you pursue, strive to become an expert. Your job is a career. Your marriage is a career. Preparing for God’s Kingdom is, or at least should be, a career.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” We only have limited time during this physical life to become educated. Our time is brief to really learn to work hard in our profession. Simplify your life enough so you can devote quality time and hard work toward what’s important: God, family, work, the community, an educational hobby. Then, whatever you do, work hard! God expects excellence from His children. He gave us minds for that purpose: to be developed and trained to operate effectively and efficiently.

6) Continually add new and exciting challenges to your life. Always observe, think and learn. Seek a better, more productive way of doing things. You have the mind to do it. That is what makes life interesting. And unless we try to go beyond what we have already mastered, we will never grow. A life full of obstacles and challenges is a blessing. Don’t seek the life of ease that so many desire. Happiness comes from working hard at what you do and doing it well.

7) Realize that true education never stops. “School” is not a four-year institution. It’s a lifelong project. Focus on developing the whole person. Never stop in your studies of great men and women. Always seek counsel before making big decisions. Continue to develop communication and social skills. Build new friendships. Look for and take advantage of new opportunities to serve. Acquire educational hobbies. Seize every opportunity to travel. Take part in an enjoyable sport. Get regular exercise.

Education is a way of life. It’s learning how to live, not just how to make a living. Education is building character. It’s doing what is right, not what is pleasurable, or what you feel like doing.

Most of all, it is following God. If we do, we’ll receive not only an eternal reward, but also much more even now (Luke 18:28-30). If we seek first the Kingdom, “all these [material] things” will be added (Matthew 6:33). There is a definite correlation between physical and spiritual prosperity.

God wants you to lead a happy, successful, exciting life. Begin now by submitting to God in all humility. Then seek His Kingdom with all of your might. Beyond that, if you make God the center of your life in every goal you have, prepare for a life of happiness and abundant blessings. God’s laws work. See for yourself. Put it to the test. If you do, what an education life will be!