Gowns have been ironed and pressed. Parties have been planned. Parents have purchased their tickets and reserved their seats. The commencement speakers have practiced their speeches. Four years plus have been working toward this one moment where students will rise and move that tassel from one side to the other. Graduation marks the crucial moment when a person is launched into their future filled with dreams, hopes, and advice.

At the Dudley household, we have a list of priorities, and it hangs on our wall, citing the following:

Dudley list of Priorities
  1. Love and obey God.
  2. Accept responsibility for your choices (or actions)
  3. Have a good self-image
  4. Have a positive mental attitude.
  5. Have a thankful spirit.

If I had to pick which of these priorities to pass along as advice to a recent graduate, it would be number one and two because, inevitably, the two are linked.

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He bore the weight of the responsibility of our sins and nailed them to the cross. Taking on this accountability is one of the reasons why He holds dominion over all the earth. Christ as the head of the church is not just a statement of authority but also a statement of responsibility. Jesus chose the responsibility of loving and protecting us. By sacrificing himself on the cross so that we no longer are crushed by the weight of our sins, He demonstrated His love and, in turn, earned the faith of His followers.

We will be recognized by our fruit. Matthew 7:16 says, “Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” Jesus’s actions produced good fruit, and it has been attracting people to His goodness for centuries. Graduates should note and emulate his actions because Leaders will also be known by their fruit. Good leaders take responsibility for their actions and provide and protect those who are under their care. In doing so, they establish the respect and trust of those who follow their lead.

Both King Saul and King David sinned. Some might even believe King David’s sin was worse because he murdered a man to conceal that he’d committed adultery and got another man’s wife pregnant. The difference between the two Kings was that Saul blamed his problems on David and others, whereas David took responsibility for his actions and repented.

Headship works the same way. If the man follows Ephesians 5:25, he is to love his wife as Christ loves the church, and that’s saying something because Jesus died for his bride (the church). God isn’t asking all leaders to sacrifice their lives, but the man is asked to protect his family. A man who hides the fact he didn’t pay the electric bill and the power gets shut off because he spent the money on beer and lotto tickets loses his authority. In contrast, a man who puts his family’s needs before his own proves through accepting responsibility that he’s worthy of their respect and trust.

My advice to all recent grads: Go and get recognized by your good fruit and may God bless your efforts.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.”  – Luke 6:45.