The rite of passage of high school graduation and college graduation has been a part of my life for my entire adult life because I have been a youth pastor my entire adult life. And I love to celebrate rites of passage.
I also love to challenge my teens to not have a normal safe faith.
I also love books. Thus I love giving books to everyone.
I know graduates receive a lot of “supposed to” gifts alongside a lot of cash. They always prefer the cash. Those graduate gift books almost always get shelved never to be seen again.
These books I give to my graduates are not those books. These are personally chosen from my long list of favorite books. These are often not about what the future has in store for the graduate or whatever. Yet they are. There is a message here I want the graduate to read to help shape their faith, especially at this stage of their lives. Plus these are books that I believe they will want to read.
Some of my choices are personal. But these five books are my most gifted lately.
Lost Letters of Pergamum: the Story from the New Testament World by Bruce W. Longenecker
This is exactly what I mean about my choices not being normal. What does this title have to do with graduation? The giftability of this clever book is it is fiction! That makes it a more readable choice. This is a clever fiction book that explains what a first-century Christian was like. Which better helps explain what a Christian is like as well as how to understand the Bible better. These are the things I want graduates to know. Plus it’s fiction!
Praying Through Every Emotion by Linda Evans Shepherd
This title explains this book. For the 73 emotions listed alphabetically there is a written prayer and scripture references. What happens after graduation is a lot of emotions, often times new emotions. I have just gifted an easy-to-use resource to help them find God in the midst of those emotions. This book makes me feel better because it is so helpful at those points when maybe they won’t call or text me asking for help.
Aloof by Tony Kriz
God is an Invisible God who at times looks aloof. True, right? For those of us who have travelled through those “dark valleys of the shadow of death.” We have come to learn that we do travel through to the other side and that God never leaves us. But in college or in those late adolescent years the God they knew of their childhood becomes aloof. Then left behind. I gift this book to get ahead of that using the beautiful words of Tony Kriz to introduce this bigger God who at times is aloof but has never left.
Never Alone by Tiffany Bluhm
This is my gift to girls. The wisdom Tiffany learned through her life heartbreaks are what I want my girls to learn. This feels like you are reading an autobiography (easily hooked into her story) as you are gaining these truths. Particularly the one story of when Tiffany believed she had found her love for a lifetime and he wasn’t. That one story every girl will never forget.
Killing Lions by John Eldredge
This is my gift to boys. Boys whom I have set expectations for and am about to release as young men. I want them to know they are young men and how to be a good young man. Boys really need to know that they are approved as grown and responsible. This book is that. I have several sections of the book I highlight and leave specific notes for my boys to find as they read. I want them to know specifically that I approve of them and why.
You can gift these books too. This is why I created this list. The more our graduates read these books, maybe there is a better chance that they will grow a bigger and beautiful faith as they grow away from us. Because this is the next step.