To Mr. Lowell Bock Walla Walla College College Place, Washington
DEAR BROTHER BOCK:
So this is your graduation! Thirty years ago this commencement time I stood at the same fork of the road as you now stand and, because of this, I can appreciate to some extent something of your hopes and expectations. . . . You share in only one college commencement. I sincerely trust it may be a very happy one and that the road in which you set your course at this time may be a very happy and successful one.
The road traversed since my commencement hasn't all been as I had it blueprinted. Sometimes life just doesn't work out that way, especially so in the work of the Advent Movement. There are times when personal preferences and ambitions must needs give way to the call, of duty. But, so long as it is the latter, regardless of personal preferences, the path is a safe one.
Looking back over my classroom training, along with others, I can see much that might be criticized as impractical and impossible of integration with service in the work of God. At the very best, there is a gulf between the classrooms of our schools and the practical problems of the field. I suppose there always will be until such time as our educational system adopts my pet theory that every instructor in our schools should spend a sabbatical year or something to that effect in actual field work—the type of work for which they are preparing students.
But whether or not this is ever done, you, with me, I am sure, will never regret the days spent at good old WWC. While some of your classroom work may have lacked the elements of practical experience, it has at least taught you to think, plan, organize, recognize the rights of others, and to attack the unknown with zeal and determination—and these are some qualities needed in the field of practical endeavor.
As you leave your alma mater in a few days for work as a ministerial intern, you will be laying aside your classroom text of a formal education for the larger and more essential books of experience, human nature, the problems of life, and your own experience with God and your fellow men. How you attack these problems, how you read the pages of experience and opportunity day by day, is going to determine the degree of success you will achieve. Your success will be determined, not so much on what you have learned in the past, but much more on how you have learned to approach the responsibilities and problems of the present as they come to you.
You will need the spirit of the pioneer—a willingness to endure inconvenience, hardship, and disappointment at times. There are no soft places in the work of God—not to those who bear their share of the burdens and keep step with the message. Youth's greatest contribution to the work of God is the daring and initiative, the fearlessness and aggressiveness, of young manhood and womanhood. Personally I would rather have a young man make ten mistakes while pushing out in the work assigned him than one static mistake—that of doing nothing through fear or overcaution.
You will need a spirit of cooperation. Wherever and in whatever capacity you may work, you will have to do so above, with, or under some of your fellow workers. So much depends upon your personal relationship with them. A grinding of gears is not only unpleasant to one's ears but indicates lack of proper adjustment someplace and loss in efficiency. There's a lack of alignment. If it should be on your part, be sure it is found in bending over backward a little to keep in step with the other fellow.
There are a lot of other things you will need—too numerous to mention here and to remember all at once. A student's attitude of devotion to his work, receptiveness, respect for the convictions of others, and good hard work will provide the solution for most of them.
There remains just one more, altogether too important to omit, to which I wish to call your attention before bringing this small-scale lecture to a close. I refer to your personal relationship to God. Entering the ministry, evangelistic or otherwise, is en tering God's work. He is the over-all Supervisor, Counselor, Director. The intimacy of your association with Him, the fullness of your understanding of His will, and the promptness and faithfulness with which you respond to the directions of His Spirit will determine in an immeasurable degree the amount of your success.
May the Lord richly and abundantly bless you in the setting and pursuing of your course. And, with all of this, be assured that I shall personally be happy to contribute in any way I can to the pleasure and success of your work and rejoice with you in any advanced achievement. Sincerely your brother,
C. W. DEGERING, Class of '16