Nick Hall: Advice to Class of 2012 – how to be yourself, disagree graciously and create community

I remember what it was like to graduate from high school and college, the joys and fears of the unknown. Little did I know how my life would change.  

As an evangelist, I spend much of my time ministering to and with millennials and members of Generation Z. They have taught me much, and in return, I would like to share with them three lessons I have learned over the years: 

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We need to bring our true selves to the table. 

I have been alive for 39 years and I am still learning who I am, learning not to strive to please people and learning to lean into God’s nearness. Just in the last year, I have discovered more deeply that God loves me for me. 

This past year has been the hardest but best of my life. That may sound strange, but God has been so near to me and my family in this season of brokenness. 

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I picked up the simple hobby of woodworking, and through that, I have experienced the pleasure of God in the simple things and have learned how he delights in me. It does not matter if I am on a stage or working in my garage – I am loved for who I am. And I have experienced God’s joy like never before.  

Class of 2021, please hear me: People pleasing kills us and eventually, it kills the friendships and relationships we work so hard to keep. 

The more we heal and become comfortable being our true selves, the more our so-called “friends” will push back because they never actually knew us. They only knew the version of us that we let them see, the version that worked to keep them happy. Although some of our friends may walk away, God will not, even if we cannot sense his presence.  

He loves us the way he made us. We no longer have to hide from him or from anyone else.  

We can disagree, but with grace. 

I am consistently surprised by how much time and energy we give to fruitless arguments over secondary issues, whether on social media, on the street or in church.  

Jesus did not always tell people what they wanted to hear, yet he treated even his enemies with dignity.

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