Tony Miltenberger is a husband, father, and follower of Christ. He is currently serving as the lead pastor at Restoration Church Centerville, ohio.

An Open Letter to my Kids About Graduation

Dear Connor, Caleb, and Shiloh, 


So, I know that I am asking a lot of you this weekend. I’m asking (making?) you all to miss games that you would normally love to attend, and games that I normally would love to watch/coach/participate in. And yet, we are going to miss them all. 

The reason for missing all those games is that this weekend I am FINALLY graduating with my Masters of Divinity. I know you don’t really know what that means, but I also know you’ve felt the effects. For the last three or so years, I’ve basically lived with books scattered about the dining room table. There were nights where I missed games and even some nights where I didn’t get to see you at all. There were days where I was grumpier than normal, and moments that I’m sure I lost my cool. 

We did it though, we survived. And thankfully your mom is awesome, so we all still like each other. So, while I may be the one walking across the platform this Saturday I wanted you to know that this is something we all did together. 

I’d also like to tell you a little bit about how we got here (graduation), and my prayer for you is that when you are thinking about your future this letter may serve as a guide. 

The first thing you should know – I was NEVER going to go to college. Not undergrad, and certainly not a Masters. Why? Well, I didn’t have a reason to go. I was perfectly content working in sales, and it worked for me. I didn’t need the extra expense, and I wasn’t motivated. I tried to go to college once because that’s what everyone wanted me to do, and I dropped out. Turns out that if you don’t have the motivation to go it will never be worth your time. So, as you pray through your higher education I want to encourage you: Don’t go because you have to, go because you want to. Wait, and hustle your way through your early 20s if you want. Work in the field that you are studying before making the commitment. Not many people will tell you this, but college will always be there. Sometimes maturity is the best thing to add to your college experience. 

The second thing I hope you remember: Take the classes that are practical for the work you want! You probably don’t know this, but I got my undergrad in “General Studies.” Which basically means I went to school and picked out the classes that I thought were valuable for the work I wanted. At that point, I knew I wanted to pastor a church, so I took as many business classes as possible. I took those classes because in a seminary they don’t teach business, but every pastor should learn how to run a non-profit. The trend continued in my master’s program – I signed up for classes that I was really interested in, and I stayed away from something that didn’t sound intriguing. Of course, you’ll have to take some required classes, but once those are done study what you want!!! 

Third thing: Nothing replaces hard work. School, job, sports – this concept is universal. The only way to make it is through hard work, and no one can do it for you. You may not always be the most gifted person in the room, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be the hardest worker. Hard work isn’t given, it’s earned. 
This weekend we will celebrate, we will take lots of pictures, and the whole time I want you to know one more thing: I couldn’t have done it without you, without my family. You all have given me so much during this time that no words will ever be enough. 

While everyone else in the room might be celebrating me, I’ll be celebrating you. 


Preparing for God's Next

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