Weekly Columns

To the Class of 2017

May 24 2017

It’s time to recognize the Class of 2017. I had the honor of addressing graduates at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge on May 13, 2017. Here is some of the advice I gave to graduates: 

I’m sure many of you are documenting this milestone on social media. You have a lot to be proud of so it is no surprise that you want to share your accomplishment. If you check my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram later today, you’ll likely see a picture of me congratulating the Williams Baptist College Class of 2017 as well. 

Social media offers a wealth of information that helps keep us up-to-date with the latest news from around the world to what is happening with our friend next door. The ease and convenience of these platforms allows us to stay engaged with our friends and share what is important to us. It’s become so easy to share about ourselves that we lose grasp of the virtue of humility.

We are called to be humble, to follow the example set by Jesus, but as a society we are struggling to follow on this path. Social media makes it more pronounced.

In his book “Mere Christianity,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

God has given us each unique talents to help others. It’s a very personal path to understanding how we have been called to help and how we can best serve the needs of the community. This is important to living a life of faith. We should be asking ourselves how can make the lives of others better? This is something we all need to be reminded of – including Washington.

When I was first elected to Congress to represent the Third District of Arkansas in 2001, I became friends with Congressman Tom Osbourne who was representing a district in Nebraska.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Tom was one of the winningest head coaches in collegiate football history. He coached his teams to 13 conference championships, 3 national championships and earned a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame.

He understood that this life we are given is about more than personal accomplishments. He felt compelled to give back and thought the best way to use his talents was to serve in the House of Representatives.

The old football player in me sought out the Coach for counsel when I got to Washington. He provided a wealth of advice, but perhaps the best lesson he taught me is that, even in a place like Washington, you can get a lot accomplished if you don’t care who gets the credit.

That is the truth. We are stronger and smarter as a team. When each person brings their individual talents to the table we can change things for the better.

In a TED talk in April, Pope Francis relayed a message to act humbly or risk ruin.

“The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more you are called to be humble,” he said. 

We are all capable of helping others. You don’t have to be a U.S. Senator or have your dream job or live in your dream house. There is a role for us all to play. 

Humility is a civic virtue. We all want to leave our state, country and world a better place for future generations. The question to ask yourselves, Class of 2017, is how can you make a difference?

As my college football Coach Frank Broyles repeatedly told my Razorback teammates and me, there are two types of people in this world: givers and takers. Live your life as a giver, not a taker.