We asked some of our Focus One exclusive speakers to say a few words of challenge/encouragement to this year's graduating class. What they had to say would speak wisdom into all of our lives.

"Exclusives" are influencers that we believe to be shaping the Church internationally. They are gracious enough to come spend a day with our students in chapel sessions, question and answer, as well as taking time to breathe life into our staff. We are extrememly indebted to their investment into us as a program and individuals.

I highly recommend buying their books and reading their blogs.

So we asked. Here's what they had to say.

Brad Lomenick ~ Author and Leader of Catalyst

Stay true to who you are. Your identity is not what you do. It's who you are. It's built around your walk with Christ. First and foremost- who you are is a child of God. Don't ever confuse your identity with your calling. Identity is who you are. Calling is what you do.

Have fun in your 20's. Enjoy the journey. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to change the world by the time you are 30. The process is what defines you.

Choose your friends wisely over the next several years. Who you are on the journey with is as important as the journey itself.

Don't ever lose that sense of curiosity and wonder. That sense of excitement for the calling of God in your life. That sense of gratefulness and grace over how you've been rescued by Jesus. Fan those flames. Be constantly open to the voice of God and the Holy Spirit in your life.

Jarrett Stevens ~ Lead Pastor, Soul City Church

“The two most important questions you can answer as you enter into this new stage are this:

  1. Who is God?
  2. Who am I in him?

Every other question you have... family, future, finances, career, calling, relationships… all of it can be filtered through these two questions.

Do the work to answer these questions well, and all of life’s other questions won’t seem quite so much like work.”

Andy Crouch ~ Author, Speaker and Senior Fellow with International Justice Mission

Go deep with people. The people you go deep with, you'll be able to go far with.

Fear sin . . . it distorts and destroys lives in ways you cannot possibly imagine when you are young and resilient.

But do not fear failure. There is always resurrection on the other side of failure, including the failure that comes from sin, but especially the mundane deaths to our ambitions and dreams that simply don't or can't come true.

Decide to always be a learner, no matter how old you get or how much you achieve. Always be a learner and you will stay humble . . . and you will never be bored!

Margaret Feinberg ~ author of Scouting the Divine and Wonderstruck

As you step out into ministry, never forget that the One we follow was nailed to a tree. Don't expect your life to turn out any different. History tells us that the original disciples, as well as the forerunner, died brutal, horrid deaths. Even John took his final breaths in prison on a remote island. Despite the pain and hardship, I have a hunch that if you looked into their eyes, they'd all say something similar in their own words: "We had the time of our lives!" Remember that following and serving Jesus is meant to be a joy, a delight, an existence marked by wonder and play with the divine. If you nurture this sense of joyful, frolicking with God in your life and ministry, you, too, will have the time of your life—no matter what may come.

Scott Hodge ~ Lead Pastor, The Orchard

Focus One Radicals, first of all, kudos and congrats to all of you! Not just because you graduated (although, that’s a big deal!), but also for the fact that you were willing to step out of your comfort zones and take the risk of showing up in Rockford, Illinois in the first place! Remember how that felt? Exciting, but also a bit scary, right? Next time you have that same feeling, remember where it took you. Don’t be afraid of it. Just because it’s uncomfortable doesn’t automatically mean it’s not safe. And whatever you do, don't ever stop believing that there is a beautiful, creative spirit on the inside of you.

Best wishes on your journey ahead. I look forward to crossing paths with you again one day!

Cliffe Knechtle, Lead Pastor and Apologist

Dear Graduates, Congratulations upon achieving a great milestone in life. You have worked hard and have served faithfully. As you step out upon an exciting new adventure in serving Christ, I pray that your passion to know him will only grow deeper. I pray that your longing to introduce others to him will become even more focused. I pray that you will experience great joy as you follow wherever he leads you. Hebrews 12:1–3 exhorts us to never give up. Never give up. Never give up. I pray God will strengthen you to never give up. With you in prayer, Cliffe

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