“People go to school to get educated, but most people who go to school and become a graduate in education still don’t know what the word ‘education’ means…’Educo’ means to bring out.”― Peter Tosh, Jamaican Musician
It’s been quite a while since I last graduated, but it’s happening again on Saturday—this time from United Theological Seminary with a Masters in Divinity. I found it interesting that this particular ministerial degree was a three-year endeavor. In the time since I started online during COVID19 in 2020—one of our parishioners has received a Masters in Environmental Engineering (1 year) and another a Masters in Clinical Health Counseling (2 years). I thought…preparation to serve and shepherd the souls God entrusts to us is an intensive and serious proposition in some circles. A GRADUATE is one who has successfully completed an academic degree, course of study, or training;to confer or receive an academic degree or qualification. Graduate derives from the Latin gradus—for degree or step— and also means to move up to a more advanced level or position. I did not anticipate going back to school at this age. King Solomon wrote, “A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], But the LORD directs his steps and establishes them.” (Proverbs 16:9 AMP) I am grateful for what I’ve experienced and for this step in my learning journey. Each milestone proves it’s not too late. While we’re here, we can fulfill purpose.
Graduation is both a culmination and a launching point. That’s why they also call the ceremony a COMMENCEMENT—a beginning or start. All across our social media timelines, people of various ages and backgrounds are advancing from one phase of education and moving into careers, callings, or further study. Whether from elementary, middle, or high school, college, vocational school, or a program that offers specialized training. There is a degree of joy and relief in finishing. Finishing is to be celebrated. Each year, 30-40% of students drop out of college, 40-60% do not complete graduate school. Solomon said, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” (Ecc. 7:8) Completing phases of education that ‘bring us out” into the world is valuable; but commencements, new beginnings, learning and graduations are not limited to the halls of academia. Paul told Timothy, “Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) Some of our best advancements are the ‘steps’ of faith we take to try and accomplish new things, to patiently endure hardship, and to use it all for God’s glory!