“Into What World Are You Being Sent?”

Prepared Remarks by Tim Schoonveld
Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, Co-Director of Athletics and Associate Director of the Center for Faithful Leadership, Hope College

Sunday, May 3, 2015
Ray and Sue Smith Stadium
Holland, Michigan

I would like to thank President Knapp, Dr. Ray, the Board of Trustees, my colleagues, parents and family here today, and most importantly you, the students for this incredible honor. It is a gift and a blessing for me to be able to stand before you today and I am humbled to be here with you.

I would also like to say thanks and congratulations to Dr. Cox, Dr. Holmes, and Dr. Shaughnessy. You have made Hope a better place and we are all grateful. Thank you for your service and for leaving a lasting mark on Hope College and those of us who know you.  

I did a little research on commencement speakers and saw a who’s who of speakers at various colleges. From President Obama to Congressmen and women to Celebrities to gifted CEOs—the list was very impressive. And you guys got stuck with Schoonie: I am not sure that is fair to each of you. With that in mind my prayer for the last couple of months has been, “that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in God my rock and redeemer’s sight”.

In Isaiah 6:6-8 it says,

“Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand…With it he touched my mouth and said, “See this has touched your lips, your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “ Here I am, Send me!”

Some of you here today know that my mission, vision, goal and dream in life is to change the world. I have tried to live this out by choosing joy and living with a positive outlook on life, by impacting the lives of those I come in contact with and by inspiring action in those around me. Some people laugh it off as an unattainable goal, yet I firmly believe that we can change the world by impacting one person at a time. Impact one and multiply it out and we can change the world. 

Yet as I prepared for today and have looked back on my life I have come to believe that there is one fundamental obstacle before each of us in our journey to change the world. 

What I see standing in our way is our concern with how we look to the world.

In his book “Scary Close,” author Donald Miller writes of this and talks of living in a world of applause. In short, I believe this is a world most concerned with what those around us think. A world focused on self, power, prestige, money, titles and the approval of those in the world. Let me share three short stories I have observed recently.

A few weeks back my eight-year-old daughter was here watching a softball game with me. The entire time she was asking me to take her on a golf cart ride around the fields. I finally gave in and we started off on the road in the 25-degree weather we have had all spring. Once we were on the ride she had to drive so I gave in and with one hand on the wheel and one foot on the brake she drove me around. What struck me is that as we passed every person, nearly 30 in all, she took her eyes off the road and waved, smiled and batted her eyes to impress them all. She was the most important person around and she was letting everyone see. The problem was we almost ended up in the ditch 4 times because she forgot to pay attention to what really mattered. Isn’t it amazing how early in our lives we feel the need to impress people. 

I am not a huge fan of Facebook and rarely spend time looking at it. You see, when I look at Facebook I think I am a failure and become very insecure. All of these couples talk about how amazing their spouses and marriages are. They tell how awesome their kids are and how perfect life it. But recently I read a post like this and had the chance to have breakfast with the friend who posted all the magical stuff I talked about. I was shocked when he told how much of a struggle their marriage was and how their kids were causing all kinds of problems. It is amazing how much we pretend in life just to impress people.

One more story that may be a little closer to the world you are entering. A recent Hope grad was going on one of his first work business trips. He was excited about the opportunity and looking forward to the trip. On one of the nights of the trip he called his dad seeking some advice. He said, “ Dad, my boss and some co-workers are going to a strip club tonight and I don’t want to go but feel like maybe I should.  What do I do?”

My friends, you are being sent into a world filled with incredible joy yet much heartache and struggle. A world where you will have to choose if it is more important to look good to those around you or head into a ditch. A world where you will have to choose if it is more important to look like you have it all together or show your struggles and receive help from those around you who care about you. 

A world where you will have to choose if it is more important to live out your values and beliefs or impress your co-workers and boss. 

Yet I think there is an alternative to living in and for a world of applause. I believe you have the opportunity to enter a world of “Hope”. I would contend this world should be filled with people who are willing to be the person God uniquely created them to be.   

Where we seek to serve OTHERS over self.

Where we seek to GIVE more than get. 

Where we focus on what IS right not on what feels right. 

A world focused on meaning, purpose, sacrifice and others. A world that will bring fulfillment that lasts a lifetime. When you seek a world of Hope you don’t have to impress others, you don’t have to seek applause; you don’t have to spend time worrying about being like someone else. You need to just be who you were created to be and live it out!

Let me share three quick actions I think you can take to move into a world of “Hope”.

So Class of 2015 my time is ending. My belief and prayer is that the “coals of Hope College” have touched each one of you; your life has been impacted and transformed while a part of this campus. As you are sent out into the next part of your journey God is asking,

“Whom shall I send? Who will go out for me?” 

My prayer is that you will choose to enter a world of Hope and transform the lives of those around you for Jesus Christ. 

Thank you for allowing me this time in front of you. Congratulations on your amazing accomplishments. May God bless you on your journey and may you have the Eyes of Jesus and the Heart of God as you are sent into His kingdom.