MY COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS TO THE CLASS OF 2003 by Ray Pritchard Thanks for allowing me to share this happy occasion with you. My congratulations to the parents and grandparents who prayed and worked and wondered if this day would ever come. Soon the seniors will graduate and high school will be behind them forever. When you receive your diploma, one chapter of your life will end and another will begin. What will happen to you then? One thing is certain. Sooner or later you have to take a stand for what you believe. For most of you, it will be sooner. There comes a time when each person must make a commitment, when you must decide what you believe and what sort of person you will be. No one else can do that for you. You’ve got to do it for yourself. There is a huge difference between having a career and being on a mission. Nowhere in the Bible are we called to a career, but all of us are called to a mission. It’s the most exciting way of life there is. It’s an adventure of following Jesus that may take you to the ends of the earth. If you follow Jesus–though the way will not be easy and you will often be misunderstood–in the end you will save your life. But you still have to make the choice. I want you to know that we are not afraid or worried at all. We know you will do well in the future. The next few years may not be easy, but we have great confidence in all of you. We can’t wait to see what God is going to do for you. And you have no idea how much we love you. Words cannot express how proud we are of you. I don’t remember much about the night I graduated from high school except that it was a warm night in late May. While the band played “Pomp and Circumstance,” the seniors marched in and took their seats on the football field. There were some forgettable speeches, they gave us our diplomas, and when the ceremony was over, we threw our caps in the air. Then we looked around at each other, as if to say, “What do we do now?” As I was walking off the field, a man who later became a state representative and then a college president, shook my hand and said, “Ray, we’re proud of you. Remember what Jesus said, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ We’re expecting great things from you.” Although a third of a century has passed, I’ve never forgotten those words. And I’ve tried to live up to them the best that I can. And so tonight we congratulate you. We send you out with our hopes and dreams and with our prayers. You will always be in our hearts. We are not worried or afraid. Go out and change the world. And we who love you will cheer you forever from the sidelines.