Graduation Day Speech

It’s that time of year again. All across the country high school students are putting on those hot gowns, tight caps and marching down the aisle. A few years ago I wrote a speech for a high school graduation. I thought I’d share it with you as a way of honoring the graduates of 2014!

The Story of the Ugly Orange Pot

My Aunt Lizzie was a sweet little old lady who had to be one of the bravest women in the world. I know this because she rode in a car with my Uncle Charlie and he was the worst driver in the world. When Aunt Lizzie died and the older relatives were going through her belongings, one my aunts gave me something to remember her by … a big orange pot. A big UGLY orange pot.

I smiled and said “thank you,” but truthfully I wasn’t impressed. I stuck the pot in a cabinet and forgot about it until one day I needed something large to cook a roast, potatoes and carrots. I remembered the pot and pulled it out from the back of a cabinet, covered with dust. I washed it off and used it for the first time.

Something strange happened over the years. Whenever I needed to bake a roast I found that the best pot to cook it in was the ugly orange pot. When someone in the community died and I needed to take food to the family, I pulled out the orange pot. Church get-togethers, family meals, special occasions…the ugly orange pot attended them all.

Life is a journey filled with discoveries

Make no mistake, I still think the pot is ugly and I wish it were UK blue instead of Tennessee orange, but I have developed an appreciation and respect for it that I never imagined I would. It doesn’t match a thing in my kitchen but I no longer care. It’s Aunt Lizzie’s legacy to me and I appreciate it for what it does, not how it looks. What does this have to do with graduation?

Every one of us has been given a gift, or talents, from God. Sometimes we look at our gifts the way I looked at Aunt Lizzie’s orange pot. Instead of appreciating them, we wonder why we didn’t get something of real value, or wonder why we didn’t get the gift that our neighbor received.

High school graduates …

You are so young you may not know what your gifts are yet. That’s okay. Right now it’s more important to know that you have them than it is to know what those gifts are. God knows what your gift is. Trust him to lead you and you’ll figure it out.

When you find your gift, don’t worry if it isn’t flashy or doesn’t appear valuable. The value may not be in the gift itself, but in how you use it. Your gift may not make you rich or bring you fame; but if you learn to accept it and to share it with others, it may bring you something even better — the joy of a life well lived, happiness, peace, love and friendship.

Before I close I want to share an Oprah quote with you.

Oprah said:

Your calling isn’t something that somebody can tell you about. It’s what you feel. It’s a part of your life force. It is the thing that gives you juice. The thing that you are supposed to do. And nobody can tell you what that is. You know it inside yourself.

My prayer for each and every graduate is that the good Lord will guard you, guide you and keep you in His care. Remember while you are searching for your gifts that often the most valuable ones aren’t covered in precious jewels and glazed with gold. Sometimes what looks like it has no value can turn out to be a life changer.

And if anyone gives you a big orange pot for a graduation gift, write them a nice thank you note. You’ll need it someday to cook roast in.

orange pot
Special graduation wishes for Courtney, Kelsey and Mason…love you all to the moon and back!

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