If you picked up on the fact that we took a little liberty in the phrasing of today’s verse, then well done, Bible scholar! The verse actually reads like this: “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”
We think that the second part of this verse is an excellent piece of advice for a new graduate. Why? Because it hits on the single-most important thing that any human needs to be successful.
Wow, what is it? What could it possibly be? How did I not know about this secret??
It’s self-discipline. (Ta-dah!)
The verse tells us that someone who can control himself (rule his spirit) is better than a warrior who can invade a city and enslave all the citizens. Put another way, it’s better — maybe even harder? — to govern ourselves than to reign over others.
Why is this such good advice for the graduating class of 2019? Well, any type of success in life — be it professional, financial, marital, or spiritual — starts with self-discipline (doing the right thing, doing what we say we’ll do, staying committed, establishing godly habits and patterns of behavior).
Many times, we think that we can somehow cheat the system and reap the rewards without doing the hard work. Life isn’t a video game; there are no cheats or manipulations that work (in the long run). Being able to self-impose healthy rules on oneself is a huge indicator of future success, even though it may take time for that fruit to ripen.
It’s also an indicator of maturity. Young people want so desperately to be thought of as full-fledged adults. Demonstrating self-discipline puts us on the fast track to that level of maturity that earns the respect of those around us.
Best of all, self-discipline pleases God. It means we’re following Him out of intrinsic desire and not because we “have to.”
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.