A plateau, not a destination

This is the time of year that thousands of students graduate from high schools, colleges, and universities. It is a time of achievement and recognition. It is a time when hours of sacrifice, struggle, and hard work pay off in well-earned diplomas.

It is appropriate that most educational institutions have designated the services honoring graduates as "commencement" exercises rather than simply "graduation" programs.Truly, the rest of a student's life is just commencing, and while there is honor and distinction in completing a prescribed set of scholastic requirements, graduation is just a plateau and not a final destination.

Because so many uncertainties lie ahead for most graduates, leaving the established routines of schooling and facing either employment or higher education can be challenging.

But there are some principles which, if observed, can make the road ahead much easier for graduates to travel. These principles are represented with three important words.

First there is performance.

It is hoped that the training given a graduate will help that person perform properly in the workplace or in higher education. Employers hire people to perform. They expect productivity and achievement. They expect assignments to be carried out properly, work to be accomplished expeditiously, and positive results to occur.

Likewise, high school graduates seeking higher education must also perform adequately in order to keep learning and to stick with a prescribed course of study that brings the next steps of achievement.

The scriptures admonish us all to perform properly, as we read these words of the Lord:

"Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

"For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

"But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned." (D&C 58:27-29.)

Second is consistency.

This is certainly a worthy companion to performance, since consistent performance is one of the most desirable attributes that a person can offer an employer or a teacher.

Consistency means reliability, faithfulness, fidelity, and loyalty. A consistent employee is a valued employee. A consistent student progresses well because he avoids the wide swings or the ups and downs that make scholastic achievement difficult.

Consistency is undoubtedly what the Lord had in mind as He showed Nephi a vision of the iron rod of truth and told him to hold fast to that rod and not deviate from the straight and narrow way. We read:

"And I said unto them that it [the iron rodT was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the Word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness to lead them away to destruction." (1 Nephi 15:24.)

And finally there is stability.

Again, this is a sister-word to performance and consistency, for it means steadfastness of purpose in achieving any desired goal. Steadiness, reliability, and perseverance are vital to anyone commencing a new venture. Stick-to-it-iveness has never gone out of date, and never will. Dogged determination coupled with dependability make sure-fire winners.

Perhaps this is what the wise King Solomon had in mind when he wrote in Proverbs:

"Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it." (Prov. 3:27.)

To the saints in early Missouri the Lord spoke somewhat of stability when He said in the midst of their trials and challenges:

"For even yet the kingdom is yours, and shall be forever, if you fall not from your steadfastness." (D&C 82:24.)

Congratulations to graduates everywhere, and may the road ahead be bright for you through performance, consistency, and stability.