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Living Life Beyond the Golden Arches . . . My Message to all 2021 Graduates

 I once heard a pastor say that the McDonald’s extra value meal represents everything that is wrong with today’s thinking and contradicts everything that honorable members of society should stand for. For example, the idea behind the extra value meal is this: get as much as possible by giving as little as possible. It causes you to ask questions like “How far can I stretch my dollar?” “How much can I get without it costing me very much?” Now don’t get me wrong… I went through college. I lived on Top Ramen.  I know the value of a dollar.  That’s not my point. The question that we should be asking ourselves is, “What can I give knowing that I might get little or nothing in return? You may have noticed there are not that many people asking those kinds of questions which is why I believe society is quickly unraveling at the seams and there are not very many who care to pick up a needle and thread!

Not only does the value meal glorify an unappetizing outlook, but it also sacrifices nutrition and quality for convenience and quantity. The food offered in an extra value meal is not exactly what you want to base your dietary regime on, and yet it’s offered in the largest amount. Its popularity suggests that people will readily forsake what’s good for them for what conveniently and inexpensively satiates their appetite. How popular would the value menu be if the items you could supersize were salads and grilled tilapia? Society is dependent on people who don’t buy into sacrificing anything for convenience…those who are willing to make choices that do not compromise integrity, core values, or Biblical truth. There are so many opportunities in life to sacrifice these things for convenience. Please don’t do it. We all know the value meal does not hold out in the end…you usually end up with a stomachache and quite possibly multiple trips to the bathroom. Society is dependent on people whose character is defined by what they do when no one is looking, what they do when they know they won’t get caught, and what they do when they know they wouldn’t get praised either! People of true character are so needed more than ever right now!

Aside from just the value meal, the whole McDonald’s mentality is all about speed.  Fast food is exactly what the name implies…it is a quick fix.  Instead of putting time and energy into a homemade dinner, you can be in and out of McDonald’s in 5 minutes with everything from your drink to dessert. Scholarship does not reflect this same principal, as you all well know.  You spend hours studying, you pay attention in class, you absorb knowledge. Scholarship is more than getting the right GPA. It is a life-long love of learning… and that does not happen overnight.  Each time you decide you want to learn something; the experience will be so rewarding that the next time will be that much easier and soon learning becomes a habit. At that point, your desire to learn makes getting A’s easier, and the focus isn’t on the grades anymore, but the acknowledgment that life is full of learning opportunities…embrace it!

Think about McDonald’s slogan… “I’m lovin’  it.” The world says… it’s all about me! I’m hungry…  I gotta feed the need.  An honorable member of society says the opposite and prizes citizenship above all which involves looking out for the needs of a group. It requires you to look beyond your own interests as encouraged in Philippians 2:4 – “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (NIV) I love that Paul doesn’t advocate total selflessness but implores his readers to look beyond personal desires and not let them run your life.

The main topic of this blog has not only made me hungry but reminds me of an event in Jesus’ life recorded in John 4: 31-38. The disciples were urging Jesus to eat something. I’m not totally positive on the background of that, but for some reason they were. Jesus’ response to them was simple: “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” As the disciples were wondering who could have snuck him a snack pack, Jesus patiently went on to explain that His sustenance was doing the work of the Father and He was looking for some additional employees. The harvest of men’s souls was ready to be reaped. Others had laid the groundwork and it was time for the disciples to pick up their garden tools. Oftentimes we reap the benefits of someone else’s works. A good leader does that. They learn from other’s mistakes. They learn from other’s examples. You have amazing parents and a heritage of teachers and education that you can reap from and build your leadership style from. You in turn will sew what others will reap. You will lead by example. You will lay the groundwork for your siblings, your friends, or future students to harvest. What you leave behind as you use your God-given leadership abilities to do his will.

And that’s the main point that I want to leave you with.  None of this means anything without a personal relationship with the Lord and a desire and dedication to doing His will. He loves you. He created you. He gave you the characteristics that are recognized in this society.  My charge to you is this: seek to understand how you can use them for God’s glory. He promises to be faithful to complete the good work that he’s begun in you. Allow yourself to be used by him. Do not give into the value meal theology and the McDonald’s mentality. Live your life beyond the Golden Arches. Just some food for thought. Congratulations on all your achievements and the many more that have yet to be seen.

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