Billy Graham’s Message to Graduates

May 6, 2024

Categories: Billy Graham

Billy Graham’s High School Graduation Photo

Billy Graham’s heart for young people resonated throughout his ministry. From his evangelistic beginnings with Youth for Christ, to speaking at commencement ceremonies across the world to offer encouragement to graduates, he always wanted to make sure young people knew about God’s love for them.

Billy Graham prepares to speak at the commencement ceremony at Liberty University in 1997. Pictured here (from left): Will Graham, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham

In 1997, he had the honor of speaking during Liberty University’s commencement – the ceremony where his grandson, Will Graham, walked the stage to receive his diploma. Here are some of the words of inspiration he had for those assembled that day:

“Many of you are concerned about the future, finding God’s will for your life.  You’ve been here and I’m assuming that most of you know Christ as your Lord and Savior.  But some of you are concerned about getting a job and getting on with life and what you’re going to do to support yourself.

Unless things have changed since I was a student, you haven’t managed to save much money during your college years.  But you do possess something of great value, greater than money.  A non-renewable resource that is moving inevitably toward total depletion and there’s nothing you can do about it.  And that resource is time.

A student of a university asked me some time ago, “What is the greatest surprise in your life?”  And I said, “The greatest surprise in life to me is the brevity of life.”

Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes in every day—1,440 minutes, which adds up to 168 hours per week.  In Psalm 90:10 the Bible indicates that our allotted time on earth may be 70 years or possibly an extension to 80, or maybe a few more even.  The Psalmist therefore goes on to say, teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Let’s think about that moment—the number in a lifetime.  Our first 15 years are childhood and adolescence.  We spend a total of 20 years sleeping.  In our final years, physical limitations may curtail our activities, so we have only 30 best years left.  Part of that time must be spent eating meals, building family and social relationships, working at our jobs, sleeping, and figuring out our income tax. Rich people cannot buy more hours than the rest of us.

It allows for each day to have 86,400 seconds to invest.  That’s how much you have every day.  And it allows for no balances, and no overdrafts.  If you fail to use each day’s deposits, your loss cannot be recovered.  You cannot hoard time and use it on another day.

Billy Graham congratulates his grandson, Will Graham, as Will receives his diploma from Liberty University in 1997

God calls us to invest our time, our very lives, primarily in people, not in projects or possessions.  We are to behave like Jesus.  He’s our example; He lived and died for others.  Jesus told his disciples, “Lay up for yourselves, treasures in heaven.”

Your generation will bear the brunt of the future’s uncertainties.  Not one of us at any age has a clue as to how long we will live.  That’s why the Bible says, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.  You can’t count your days but with Jesus Christ as your Lord you can make your days count.  You can invest whatever time is yours for high-yield-return in the lives of people you introduce to Jesus Christ.

Right now you can decide to invest the rest of your life in such a way, that someday you will hear God say to you, “Well done good and faithful servant, come and share your master’s happiness.”

I’m asking you today not to graduate but to commence a new life following the will of God every step of the way.”

Excerpt from Billy Graham’s commencement address at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va., May 3, 1997

Find out more about Billy Graham’s ministry in The Journey of Faith tour at the Billy Graham Library. Plan your visit today. Admission is always free!

What Do You Think?