What would you say to 50 college students?
They sat in front of me—50 of them, wide-eyed, eager, young, some with girlfriends or boyfriends, some engaged, and some with years to go before landing a degree. It was my son’s college ministry team, and I’d been invited to speak.
As I looked out at them, I saw myself—a long time ago. What could I say? What could I say to the college student looking me in the eye? The one who could be me?
I plunged in and asked them, “Who wants to live a great adventure?” Hands shot up from around the room. But then I asked, “Who wants to live a dangerous and uncertain undertaking?” Only a few hands raised—tentatively. But ah yes, I told them that an adventure is a dangerous and uncertain undertaking.
I told them the questions are different at every stage of life: In your 20s, you’re asking what your career will be and who you will spend your life with. In your 30s, you start to ask if your career will take off, and what the schedule is for the kids’ soccer games. By the 40s, you start to wonder if you made the right career choice and where the simple days of raising kids went. By the 50s, you start to look back and to wonder if you’ll stay healthy in the next quarter of our life. By the 60s and 70s, you start to ask if the journey was worth it, and if you’re taking your medications on time.
I stopped and paused, and asked them if they had questions. At first the hands came slowly: was the risk worth it in going a different career path? How do you know the right direction at the fork in the road? How do you honor your parents even if you don’t want to obey?
But ultimately, I told them that the key in life is not finding the destination. Instead, the key is to be faithful in the journey. Be faithful with what God puts in front of you, and if you do, you’ll find where he wants you to go.
Success is not the destination. Faithfulness is the success.
I wish someone would have told me these words when I was graduating from college. I could have saved myself a lot of angst worrying about the perfect path, the perfect job, and the perfect mate. I could have relaxed a bit more and enjoyed the adventure in front of me.
Now let me say, I don’t profess all the answers. To the contrary, the path has taught me (and is still teaching me) humility.
What would you say to a group of 50 college students?