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Hanging on the wall in my mother’s house today is one of those cross-stitched little sayings that has had an enormous impact on my life. It reads:

“There are two lasting gifts parents can give their children/One is ROOTS and the other is WINGS…”

In the spring of 1971, I graduated from Ashville High School in St. Clair County and later that fall matriculated as a freshman at the University of Montevallo — a campus I had never set foot on until I was accepted and came for freshman orientation.

I jumped out of the nest and into a world that was completely unfamiliar to me. I knew no other students in that freshman class. As I military kid, I had moved around the world and walked into unfamiliar territory several times before but always holding the hand of a parent to guide and reassure.

This was different. I was on my own.

Within a couple of days two groups reached out to me: the folks from a local Baptist church and some upperclassmen from Baptist Student Union (today’s Baptist Campus Ministries).

That church became my college church, and Baptist Student Union became my home. Together they taught me the true meaning of church and what it means to walk daily as a disciple and a follower of Jesus. This ultimately led to my calling to a ministry that I’m still serving 40 years later!

It all goes back to that cross-stitched picture.

Parents and a family that loved, guided, disciplined me and pointed me to Jesus and His church but who loved me enough to let me go and find my way in the world.

As parents, my wife and I tried to emulate that kind of “love and freedom, roots and wings” philosophy with our own children.

And now it’s that time of year again. In a few weeks, parents will face this exciting and scary juncture with their high school graduates.

My best advice is to give them both: ROOTS (faith, family and focus) and WINGS (unexplored, uncharted and unlimited opportunities). It won’t be easy but, in the end, they (and our world) will be the better for it.

The Office of Collegiate & Student Ministries of the State Board of Missions works to help your students through this transition each year by connecting them with Baptist Campus Ministries across the nation.

We would like for all churches in Alabama with graduating seniors to complete this simple online form requesting contact information for your students so that they may be contacted by a campus minister at whatever school they may attend.

Would you help us in passing this information along?

In doing so, you are seeking to help students transition well.

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