Commentary: Lessons for life as we celebrate the Class of 2024


When Jack Brown’s son Adam graduated from high school, the father decided to write down the most important things his son needed to know as he started college and stepped into life’s next chapter.

This going away present contained 511 reminders about how to live a happy and rewarding life. The collection of wisdom evolved into Life’s Little InstructionBook (vol. 1), which sold more than ten million copies and stayed at the top of the New York Times’ best seller list for two years. Both volumes one and two continue to make great graduation gifts and impact young lives.

Our senior adults made an impact on young lives one year as our church recognized graduates. Our student ministry hosted a nice lunch after Sunday morning worship. Our youth served the meal and then sat with senior adults at each table. They asked questions that helped start discussion. Questions included, “What was your favorite childhood memory?” and “How much was Coke when you were a teenager?”

The last question was “What lesson for life would you share with these teenagers?” We got an earful of great counsel from folks who had been around the block a few times:

*Remember who you are and whose you are. You are God’s creation, and you belong to Him.

*Stay close to God through Bible study, prayer, weekly worship, and small group Bible study. Be intentional and disciplined in your spiritual life.

*If you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas! Choose your friends wisely.

*Always follow directions. They may save your life!

*Never ever text and drive. Hands off your phone when behind the wheel.

*Respect and appreciate your parents. You won’t always have them with you.

*Take time to enjoy each day.

*Do something useful every day.

*Try to slow down instead of living life so fast.

*Treat others as you’d like to be treated.

*Put God first in every part of your life, every day.

*Strive to honor God in everything you do.

*Be responsible and follow through on what you say you will do.

*When choosing a mate, make sure he or she is a Christian.

*Develop patience and always do the right thing.

*Tell the truth every time!

*Don’t associate with anybody you can’t bring home with you.

*Begin tithing now on whatever your paycheck is.

*Always draw your confidence from God and rely on Him fully.

*Stay away from drugs and alcohol and wait on sex until you get married!

*Everybody needs a touch of kindness.

*Every age group needs a smile and a word of greeting.

*Learn to say,You’re welcome!” instead of “No problem!”

*What goes around comes around. We reap what we sow.

*Listen carefully. You may learn something.

*Laugh a lot. Laughter is good for you!

*Don’t sweat the small stuff. Most of what we “sweat” is small stuff!

*Build your life on God’s Word. The Bible, “a lamp for my feet and a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105), is life’s best instruction book.

*Always give your best and do your best.

While serving in the US Navy, future president Jimmy Carter interviewed with Admiral Hyman G. Rickover for a job with the Navy’s new nuclear-powered submarine program.

Rickover asked how Carter ranked in his class at the Naval Academy. With pride, Carter replied, “Sir, I stood 59th in a class of 820.”

Instead of congratulating him, Rickover paused, then asked, “Did you do your best?”

Carter almost said “Yes,” then swallowed hard and honestly answered, “No, sir, I didn’t always do my best.”

Carter said Rickover looked at him for a long time, then asked an unforgettable question: “Why not?”

This is a great question no matter our season of life: “Are we giving and doing our best?”


David L. Chancey, “The Writing Pastor,” recently retired from McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, GA. He looks forward to continuing to preach and to expanding his writing ministry. View his other writings at