On Friday, May 4, I was invited to speak at Charleston Southern University's graduate luncheon. The following is what I remember saying.
When I asked my wife for a some advice on what to say to folks who were about to graduate from college, she said, "Tell them not to do it. The economy's a wreck. There's no jobs. They might do better to go to graduate school." Well, you could defer your loans for a few years I guess.
20 years from now I hope you have a handfull of friends from your college days on the Alumni board and they want to hear you speak at this event. I do mean that as a blessing, but today I also blame Facebook.
I wondered what sort of speech to give today. You don't need a commencement address. You'll get one of those tomorrow. My challege to you is to remember something the speaker says.
I have daydreamed about being a commencement speaker. That daydream started 20 years ago about 5 minutes after I graduated. Generally there are two criteria for being a commencement speaker. A) You can be famous for something. B) You could have accomplished something. Oh, well.
I'm a pastor, but I'm not here to preach, though I probably will. Having attended this Baptist univeristy for a while, you have probably already heard a lot of preaching. On top of that, I am a BAPTIST pastor, so hearing from the likes of me is about as rare as seeing a mallard duck out there on the reflection pond.
I did read that there was a rare bird spotted on the reflection pond, a greater white fronted goose. OK, it was more unusual than rare. A little bit lost and off-course. Today, I hope to be that kind of rare bird for you.
I'm not here to preach. I'm not here to offer a commecement address. The reason I'm here is because I am a Buccaneer.
Mascots, especially if they've got imaginations, don't really need to practice. I'd go to cheerleading practice, and spot the cheerleaders as they practiced partner stunts. So, not only did I have access to cheerleaders, but they were literally falling out of the sky.
Yes, it was fun, too. After a basketball game, the cheerleading team went out to eat. The referees from the game came to the same restaurant. They recognized the cheerleaders and came over to introduce themselves. They got to me, and one referee inquired, "Who are you?" I smiled and said, "I'm the Buccaneer." Karl Hess told me, "I hate your guts!" Proof I was doing my job well.
I was also in great shape. I remember being at the counter at the business office. I was leaning on the counter writing a check. I overheard two women across the room behind me. One of them caught her breath and said, "That guy's the Buccaneer." The other woman asked, "How do you know?" OK, to keep this a family show, let's just say that she explained that from her vantage point she could identify me anywhere. Seems those pants for the Buc costume were a little tight--but I guess not in a bad way.
Are you a Buccaneer? It's from the French root word boucan which had to do with cooking over a fire. The first pirates called buccaneers were hold up on uncharted Carribbean islands catching and cooking wild hogs over a pit. If you can cook on the grill, you're a Buccaneer!
Are you a Buccaneer? Do you know your history? Do you know the story behind why we're called Buccaneers (bad news here, no one knew the story)? In 1964, the school's first basketball game was played downtown against Anderson College. The rumor going around was that Baptist College's sports teams were going to be referred to as the Christian Knights or Crusaders. Well, the students showed up at that first basketball game wearing bandanas, eye patches, ear rings and sashes, brandishing swords, and they unrolled a banner that said BUCCANEERS. The nickname stuck.
Being a Buccaneer is about boldness, standing up and being heard. Being a Buccaneer is about daring to be different, about not being satisfied with the status quo, and if going against the status quo should cost you, at least you can stll cook on your grill!
Are you a Buccaneer? The most important characteristic about being a Buccaneer is about seeking treasure. I would say that was a great lesson I learned at Charleston Southern. I didn't even know I was looking for treasure.
Seeking treasure is a lesson about friendship. I am grateful for the many friends I made while I was a student here. I know in my heart that I have friends who love me and care about me. A lot of those are folks I haven't seen in 20 years, but I bet if we got together we could pick up where we left off--in either doing good or a little mayhem.
Seeking treasure is about fellowship. We each have talents to share. We each have gifts to bring to the table that we can use to work together and accomplish great things.
Seeking treasure is about faith. Jesus said, "Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you." Seek is a word that implies an earnestness about your search. It's about not being satisfied until you have found what you're looking for. Apply what we know about seeking to somehting Jesus said earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."
The greatest thing about seeking the treasure of the kingdom of God is that when you do that the treasure finds you.