As the oh-so-famous lyrics from Disney’s Aladdin, “A Whole New World”, go:
“A whole new world
With new horizons to pursue
I'll chase them anywhere
There’s time to spare
Let me share this whole new world with you.
A whole new world
That's where we'll be
A thrilling chase
A wondrous place
For you and me.”
And in some weird, ironic way, that’s what finishing school is like. It’s like entering this whole new world outside of the school world in which we have spent so much time. For some of us, school started in kindergarten where we made our first-ever friends – playing with Lego and drawing on chalkboards; we then headed to elementary school where we learned how to form coherent sentences, memorize the multiplication table and write in cursive. Then, there was high school – everyday dramas we thought would last a lifetime, where we started to figure out who we are and what we love to do. And for many of us, college or university was the next logical step. We selected a field of study, switched courses and majors from time to time, but we kept on going to those early morning classes, to those trying night classes, so that after several years, we could see our name printed on a beautiful piece of parchment paper. And now what?
Welcome to a whole new world!
Some of you may be graduating high school as you read this, some may be finishing your undergraduate or post-graduate degree. But for most of us, school has been the decisive core of our lives. Day in and day out, classes, assignments, tests, exams, teachers and professors... On average, most of us spend 16 years in school before we end up in “the real world”. Daunting, isn’t it? So, take any advice you can from me, a new grad who spent 18 years in school, learning how to navigate this new world!
- Pursue God in ALL that you do! Whether going back to school or looking for a job, put God first. Proverbs 3.5-7 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” This is a God that loves you, that cherishes you, that KNOWS what is best for you. No matter what plans you have – He has far greater plans for you. TRUST HIM. Lean into the Almighty God, ask for His guidance and wisdom. He will open doors for you and put you on a path that seeks to glorify Him the most and bring you the most joy and wonder!
- Expect hardships but do not worry. Life with Christ is not a fairytale; it’s often filled with hardships and difficulties but it’s also filled with such overwhelming joy and peace. Philippians 4.4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Whatever situation you may go through, Christ will be at your side. He will walk alongside you and carry you when you are weak. When you face times of difficulty and discouragement, pray to Him. Ask Him to grant you peace and understanding. Present these trying times to God and allow yourself to grow through them into a more mature human being and Christian.
- Choose a job not for money but to glorify God. Being enticed by money is not a joke – especially coming out of school with student loans. So, when you start getting job offers, be cautious and consider your priorities. Matthew 6.19-21; 24, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… No one can serve two masters… You cannot serve both God and money.” Trust God – trust that He will provide you a job that will take care of your needs. Seek a mindset that focuses on the eternal and not solely on your earthly needs.
- Learn to be content. There is nothing on earth lasts forever – except for the work that you do for Christ which lasts eternally. Philippians 4.11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” In applying for jobs, in looking at your future, make sure whatever you do, be content and do it for the glory of God.
In the Disney movie, Aladdin invites Princess Jasmine to see and experience a whole new world with him. Prior to jumping on that magic carpet, he turns to Jasmine and asks her, “Do you trust me?” Jesus is asking us the same question as we explore a whole new world. May we, like Jasmine, with curiosity, excitement and a trusting faith, say yes to Christ on this journey – and may we let Him guide us into the future!
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What practical advice can you share with a new graduate that helped you when you stepped into the whole new world of "after school"?
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