A Message To Graduates

Story - Hailey O. - as told to Holly Poole. 

Hailey is a new high school graduate and now a student of ministry. I asked Hailey about making hard decisions, transitioning into the world after high school, and choosing to pursue full time ministry at a young age: 

When the time came for Hailey to make decisions about her life after high school she struggled as most high school students do. She didn’t feel at peace about her original plans to go to college to be an elementary education major. After praying for about 2 months, it was clear to her that she was going to pursue full-time ministry and attend bible college. Making life decisions is a hard thing, especially for 19 year olds that are suddenly thrown into a world in which they are forced to find their place without being prepared for how to manage it and make those hard decisions.

Of course, ministry doesn’t require a degree: ministry begins with an act of the art.

Without prayer, this transition would have been  basically impossible. Hailey has seen how so many others her age struggle with what to do next, how to make their desires a reality, and how to navigate the world on their own. She knows that she can’t do it alone, and thankfully, she has a strong support system that encourages and guides her in this journey. Pastor Marvin and the staff here at The Harbor Church have taken her under their wing to teach her and expose her to the reality of life in ministry. “There are so many things,” Hailey says, “that school will never teach me. Ministry is a hands-on experience and that’s what I’m doing this summer: putting my hands to work wherever I’m needed and maintaining a teachable attitude.” 

Ecclesiastes 9:10—Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Of course, ministry doesn't require a degree: ministry begins with an act of the art. Hailey has been a youth leader for the past year and continues to live a life of ministry every day. She has a heart for young girls and has been called to influence, nurture, and counsel the fatherless and broken. When Hailey was in junior high school, she found herself looking for her own worth in other people. Growing up without a father, she found herself lost in the feeling of being wanted and loved. As I interview her, Hailey speaks with compassion and desperation for the hearts of young girls that have lived similar experiences to her own: “I learned quickly that looking to be accepted and loved did not give me the attention that I really wanted. It was only when I gave my heart and identity over to God. Every time I am around young girls, God puts it on my heart to love them and show them who He says they are, not what people say they are, because you cannot find acceptance anywhere else except in Him. It brings me to tears to see what girls in this generation will do to find their worth. If there is anything that I can do to guide their perception of who they are, to point them toward God’s mirror and not their own - I want to be that for them.” 

What would you say to other young people that have graduated this year/are graduating soon as they are making decisions about the next steps? 

“To those that are still in high school: stay true to yourself and what God calls you to be. Doing certain things to fit in or gain popularity is not going to matter once you graduate. Allow God to influence your life decisions, not just your friends, parents, or counselors. If you are called to ministry but do not pursue it, God will give that opportunity to someone else, but you should realize that you are missing out on the thing that you were created for and you’re missing out on the blessings that God has for your life. I want to challenge you to be an influencer in your school while you are there because once you leave, you don’t get that time back.”

“To those that have graduated this year: start doing something! If ministry is your calling, pursue it now rather than wait until you're older or when you have a position. Ministry is not a job title, it’s a lifestyle choice. You have to pursue it. God isn’t going to throw it in your lap. He puts it on your heart, and the rest is up to you.” 

If full-time ministry is not what you are called to, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t called to take part in building the Kingdom of God. Whether you are a doctor, waitress, or teacher, your journey as a student as well as the job you land are mission fields. And above all else, God calls us to excellence—that means excellence in our education and our work. Excellence is an active form of worship to God. When you do all things with a heart of excellence, you are making the best decision that you can make towards the advancement of your future. Daniel 6:3 says, “Then Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” 

Be like Daniel and make the best career move that you will ever make: pursue a heart of excellence. God made you great, but He is greater: glorify Him with your life.