Electricity was in the air. Smiles radiated on every student as they proudly displayed their robes. Faculty adorned their regalia with excitement and fulfillment. Parents peered through the crowds with fingers firmly fixed ready to take a dozen pictures of their pride and joy. A sense of accomplished filled the room. Hopes. Dreams. New Beginnings. May is the month for graduations.
I had the privilege to participate in two of Lancaster Bible College graduations recently, one in Lancaster, PA and one in Greenbelt, Maryland. In both commencements, no student casually approached the event. Parents were not asleep. I did not see one person texting on their phone as they received their diploma. Rather, there was focus and celebration.
Milestones are important in life. They represent the culmination of hard work – a sense of satisfaction for pouring one’s life into something. They symbolize a changing season as a person becomes a teenager, gets married, or gets a job. Milestones embody hope as a person dreams of the next phase in life – the possibilities, the adventure. It is important to celebrate milestones.
Sadly, we live in an age where milestones are oftentimes overlooked. Life is too busy to find space to gush over a person. Or, if we do recognize a milestone, it is casually done with a short applause or brief note. There are simply too many tasks and obligations to stop and enjoy the moment. In some cases, we take time to celebrate but our minds are distracted by the responsibilities we could be doing. When this happens, a life marker is missed in the haste of life. In other cases, milestones are overlooked because our culture has minimized their significance. Becoming a teenager is simply the continuation of pre-adolescence. Oftentimes, weddings, the establishments of a covenant, are lightly attended for the real event – the reception. It is not uncommon for a person to have five different jobs in as many years. Or, a person graduates early and begins their career opting to have one’s diploma mailed to them. In doing so, life becomes one long ride without stops to enjoy the scenery.
It is important to celebrate milestones. Leaders are in a unique position to create space for such moments. At our disposal is the work schedule where we can pause the day-to-day responsibilities and recognize those having achieved something noteworthy. People listen when we speak. Therefore, it is important to command attention towards an event, a person’s retirement, birthday, or accomplishments, and in such a way that validates the significance of such an event. Unfortunately, such opportunities are oftentimes missed for the pressing demands of the company or institution. And, in doing so, we miss a moment where we can leverage our leadership platform to instill hope and fulfillment in another person. The biblical narrative is full of milestones on a grand scale of the Israelites entering the Promised Land to individual recognitions of circumcision and baptism. God understands the significance of milestones thus incorporating them into the covenant community. They have meaning and purpose. They are acts of obedience. They are gatherings for celebration by the community. And, they honor the One who delights in them.
Yes, milestones are important in life.