The Best Is Yet To Come

by Eric L. Woods as presented to the Durham District Lay Council Dr. F. George Shipman Scholarship Program held at Holland Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church on 05/19/2012

Philipians 4

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

“The best is yet to come.”

Asian Kitchen interior (Durham, NC int. of 751 & 54)

I found a correlation between life’s experiences and fortunes at a restaurant. Even though some are duds, you must not throw them away unopened. Keep opening them at every opportunity and watch for the lessons hidden in between. There is a restaurant I frequent multiple times a week for lunch. Great food at a great price. While I do not like fortune cookies over time I learned that opening the fortunes was a worthwhile endeavor. Not always, but every once in awhile I get a fortune that says something worth reading. I have learned not to stop opening them just because I get one bad fortune. Here are a few I would like to share.

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy”

  • Though they may seem the same at times it is vital to mental well being and success to be able to quickly discern between second guessers and brain stormers. The former does not require much thought, brings nothing new to the party, casts doubts, douses sparks of inspiration and should respectfully be avoided, but the latter can inspire greatness within others, bolster confidence, fan the embers of new ideas into flames, become co-conspirators of greatness and should be actively sought out.
  • Anyone with eyes to see and a mouth to speak can spot and announce a problem, but it takes individuals with a sound mind and a focused spirit to move from there to address and correct the problem.
  • Keep your mind focused on solutions, not problems.

“A window of opportunity won’t open itself.”

  • Getting into college is just the beginning, not the end.
  • I had friends who were so caught up with the excitement of getting in to college that they were not able to clamp down and focus on staying in college.
  • The window has been opened. Now it is on you to open it.
  • Even after graduation the work continues.
  • The degree was not a tool to avoid work, but rather a confirmation that I was ready and able to work.

“A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.”

  • Not to sound cliche, but you are indeed our future.
  • You have the future of your family and your community in your hands.
  • Those accountants, engineers, teachers, Pastors, sitting in this room one day will one day be replaced by your generation.
  • Have your mind right before you serve.
  • I do not say this to puff myself up, but I prayed when I began my ministry that I would never have to make a ministry decision based on finance. Now the Lord does have a sense of humor. I thought the Lord would give me a post as such that I would not have to worry about work. Instead the Lord gave me two jobs. One to pay the bills and one to serve His will. I do not say this as a complaint for I am blessed beyond measure. Blessed because I understand that I would rather be a pauper fulfilling my purpose and ministering to the Lord’s people than a wealthy man who is of no heavenly or earthly good.
  • Do not take on a mindset of indifference, but seek to make a difference and the Lord will bless you mightily.

“People learn little from success, but much from failure.”

  • If and when you do fail know that it is a waypoint along your journey and not a destination. Above all else keep on going.
  • My uncles graduated from NCA&T and my 1st cousins graduated from there also. Quiet is kept that is where I started my college career. I heard the great stories about the parties and I found every one of them to be very much true. Add in the fish out of water, awkward Colonie kid narrative and you have yourself an interesting start to college.
  • As a result of my early lack of focus my 5 year engineering degree plan took some unexpected bumps and turns. I still graduated in 5 years but:
    • accumulated credits from 5 different colleges
    • 5 different cities (Greensboro, Troy, Utica, Albany, and Schenectady)
    • 2 different states
  • But here is the thing. I never quit, did not stop, and I did get a degree. (My parents are saints by the way.)
  • After a bumpy start l ended up working as an Engineer for GE Power Systems. It is the ending that matters most. Keep on going.
  • The only thing between you and success is time and determination. Do not give up.
  • Learn from your failures, do not allow yourself to be defeated by them.

“The major value in life is not in what you get, but in what you become.”

  • A college is the tool to assist in obtaining gainful employment, but your enlightenment and growth as an individual is the real trophy.
  • Concern yourself with doing right, not being right.
  • Never sacrifice your character. Stay true to yourself.

This day is special, your college experiences will be a blessing, but stay focused because once you have that degree in hand the work is not over, but…

The best is yet to come.

God bless and much success to you.

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