Every 2016 High School graduate is about to face a new world. This is a world of independence, freedom and self-discovery — a world in which becoming a responsible adult is the end game and learning how to become a responsible adult is the process in which to get there. If you have just graduated, then you are facing a few options in life. The first option is to further your education through local college or move away from home to attend a college or university. The second option is entering into the working world, looking for a job or a place of employment so that you can develop some kind of skills to be able to financially support yourself. And the third option is to do absolutely nothing. You’ve made no plans for the immediate future, hoping to sleep late, come home late, eat your parents’ food and enjoy a free room and board until your parents have had enough and force you to choose option 1 or option 2. Some would call option three a “bum” and if you live in South Florida, if you’re not careful you will become a “beach bum.”
An intentional choice
Whichever option you choose for your immediate post high school plans, the best opportunity for success is going depend upon a lot of choices you will make. But ultimately, your most important choice is who you choose to be your friends. The people you are going to hang with will have a great impact on your life and the direction or lack of direction that you take for success.
My post high school plans left me wandering for many years with no real purpose or direction. This was mainly due to the fact that I spent too much of my time with old high school friends, who, like me, had not gone to college nor had any type of reliable job or income. These wandering years got me into a lot of trouble and took me down a regrettable road of sin. Proverbs 12:26 says: “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” I was a professional beach bum for many years after high school, making poor friendship choices. It took me a couple of “wasted years” of my life to learn how to choose my friends more carefully.
But, you don’t have to be the “bum” to make bad friend choices. Going off to college and going off to work will set you apart from your previous high school friends, but if you’re not careful, as you bask in the freedom of independence, you can very easily get involved in college friendships and career friendships with others who are nothing like you or who hold to the same values and beliefs that you hold to. And the biggest trap for college students who have grown up in church and have a Christian faith and moral compass is the desire to be accepted no matter the cost. And that “cost” is an exodus from what you know to be true, right and moral.
Going off to college requires you to intentionally seek out friends who share your faith and your morals. But they may not be so easy to find. Settling for friendships with your peers who party, sleep around, smoke and sleep in on Sundays is much easier than getting up on Sunday morning and finding a Church College Group or visiting a Campus Bible Study where you initially don’t know anyone. Proverbs 18:24 gives a sobering truth, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Finding the right friend(s) is like finding a family member, someone who shares similar DNA. This can’t compare to a friend who is unreliable and who will lead you toward sin, which will ruin your testimony, your morals, your convictions and your faith.
A biblical example
All throughout the Old Testament, God warned his chosen people, Israel, not to get involved in the foreign, pagan cultures that were living all around them when they moved into their own place, the Land of Canaan. This was not so that they would be a self-righteous group of people; it was because God knew that the sinful practices of other people groups would lead them away from their God, and they would miss out on everything that God wanted to do in their lives to bless and prosper them.
If you are a Christian high school graduate, you are entering into a new world, and God wants you to prosper and be so incredibly blessed! So, it is vital that you choose your friends wisely and pursue godliness over compromise.
Tips for finding faithful friends
Here are seven great tips to follow after graduation to insure good friendships:
- Make a commitment to find a healthy church to attend with a College/Next Generation Ministry that you can connect with.
- Don’t be a pleaser. If you know your grandmother would not approve of a new friend then cut it off before it ever gets started.
- Go to places where you are most likely going to find positive friendships with people like you. That means avoid bars, parties, etc.
- Stand for what you believe in. The best way to attract someone like you is to be yourself.
- Ask for your church, parents, youth group to keep you accountable to your new life and new friendships.
- Stay connected with God every day. Being away from your parents’ watchful eye is a great way to prove that your relationship with God is genuine, so read and study God’s Word daily.
- Pray for God’s provision for friendships.
Pastor Brody Howell is the president and founder of Core Solutions for Life where he works with churches, schools and non-profit organizations. He is also a Broward Area Advisor for First Priority of South Florida, and he offers Pulpit Supply to churches on any given Sunday throughout South Florida. Pastor Brody can be reached at [email protected]