An excerpt from my opening remarks at our Rhetoric School Awards Ceremony.

The most important things in life cannot be captured on a certificate.

When my wife gave birth to our children, she was not handed a certificate. (Oddly enough, each of them were!) When a man dies at the age of 93 having lived a life of faithfulness to his wife and family, he does not win an award. The reward of these two examples of faithfulness is not any sort of certificate or recognition, but rather the thing itself. Sacrificial service to another person is the reward. Faithfulness is the reward. Those of us who have experienced glimpses of these things know this to be true.

But many of you have not experienced these things. I know you don’t like to hear this, but it is true: you simply have not lived long enough to experience all of what life has to offer, at least not in its fullest sense. But you will. And what do you now affects the way you will approach the rest of your life.

Which leads me to my second point:

It is worth recognizing—on paper and in front of your peers—those things you have done this school year that are pointers towards the really important things in life.

Grades, in the end, do not matter. But Faithfulness matters a great deal; it can make or break entire families, communities, and nations. And being diligent to give your best effort on homework, even when no one is looking, is a pointer towards the sort of faithfulness you are called to walk in throughout your life. A practice of regular faithfulness now on things that carry little weight is precisely what prepares you for faithfulness when it matters most.