Blessed People of God,
We are in a season of celebration of graduations and elevations! During June we typically pay tribute to children and adults who have successfully completed their courses of study for the year, and will be either elevated to the next grade level, or have completed their programs and are now parading in graduation processions. To those who have worked hard, run well,
and reached their finish line, congratulations! (We include in this category the newly ordained Reverend Donna M. Minor, who was elevated to the office of Local Deacon at the 194th Session of the Philadelphia Annual Conference on May 29th, 2010.) We must all keep in mind that learning is a life-long process, so continue to learn and grow as you approach this new season in your lives.
While we celebrate with those who are successfully pressing toward the mark in their academics, I have become increasingly aware and concerned about too many of our children who are promoted, and even graduate, without having mastered the skills that are prerequisites for the next levels of learning and life. Too many of our children are pushed along through school systems that seem more concerned about Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) statistics than equipping people for the demands that lie ahead. Young people are often set up for frustration and failure. While graduation is a worthy goal and we need to encourage our young people to stick it out, we also need to make sure that staying there means that they are equipped to make the grade in life.
This concern raises for us a warning for our spiritual lives as well. Today there is much talk among the saints about “going to the next level” and “expanding our territories”. While everyone should aspire to “graduate” in our spiritual lives to the next “grade” (i.e., new levels of spiritual insight and application), and we should want ALL the territory that God intends for us to have, we must be sure that we are not seeking it at the expense of something that God wants us to “get” at the level that we’re on right now, before we’re promoted. Often we wonder why our change doesn’t come as quickly as we would prefer. However, if we rise to the next level too quickly (perhaps because of our aspirations and not the Holy Spirit’s leading), we risk missing out on the blessings that God has for us in the current context, and possibly not receiving valuable equipping for the future. God loves us too much to want us to flounder at some higher level (even if it means more “status”) that we’re not prepared for. GOD will decide when God has developed us to a point where we’re ready to the next rung on Jacob’s ladder, or to manage expanded territory. So even if you feel like you’re not being promoted forward as fast as you’d like, be encouraged! God is sovereign! God knows what battles that we will encounter in the future and how best to equip us for them!
We also honor Fathers during the month of June. We honor those men who have accepted the mantle of fatherly responsibility, and have humbly yet deliberately assumed the role of being an example for our children. Let us teach them by example the value of discipline, persistence, and hard work in attempting to reach goals, rather than that of “short cutting” and “taking paths of least resistance.” They will be much better prepared for the future, and God will reward us richly as we do so.
Peter tells us to:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)
Grace and Peace to you and yours!