Commencement speaker has a few words for today’s graduates—and for himself

By wayne.steffen on December 20, 2016 @ 3:43pm
Students walking at Commencement

In urging new graduates to choose the impossible, Fresno Pacific University commencement speaker R. Scott Rodin, Ph.D., let them in on what he wishes someone would have told him.

Enjoy the full ceremony at

“Scott, pay close attention to how you define success, because it will determine who you are and drive everything you do,” Rodin said. “These are my words to you today. You will all leave here today with two things: a diploma in your hand and a definition of success in your heart. While the former will equip you for your future career, the latter will impact every area of your life.”

Rodin spoke to some 434 students—291 from the bachelor’s degree completion program, 53 from the traditional undergraduate program and 90 from the graduate program (including one from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary) December 16, 2016, in an evening ceremony in Selland Arena, 700 M St., Fresno. Graduates come from the main Fresno campus, as well as regional campuses in Merced, North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield.

President of Rodin Consulting, Inc.; Kingdom Life Publishing; and The Steward’s Journey, Rodin is a pastor with 32 years of experience in leadership, fundraising, strategic planning, board development, change management and organizational effectiveness. He has written 13 books, including The Steward Leader, and counseled over 100 educational, church and other not-for-profit organizations in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain. Senior fellow of the Association of Biblical Higher Education and past chair of the Evangelical Environmental Network and ChinaSource, Rodin served as president of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Christian Stewardship Association. His master’s and doctoral degrees are from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

While there may seem to be countless ways to define success, Rodin proposed there are really only two: What we do—our accomplishments and achievements, or who we are—or who we are becoming.

Defining success by accomplishment uses the metrics of wealth, power, influence, impact and reputation. “The problem with ownership as our means of success is we never have enough,” Rodin said. “There are people sitting in this auditorium this evening that, if they were honest, would attest that a lifetime of pursuing these things results in a gnawing dissatisfaction and an insatiable discontentment.”

The Christian version of this is spending your life in an exhaustive pursuit of accomplishing things for God, and leaving no time or space for God to work in you. “This is the high cost of charting this course and letting productivity define success,” he said.

Making God the owner of your life, however, means knowing the will of the owner and carrying it out with obedience and joy, according to Rudin. This is the life of a faithful steward.

What would it mean to lift up faithfulness as the sole definition of success? “It means standing up for truth in a morally rudderless culture. It means living a holy life in a sin-soaked generation. It means modeling hope in a growingly desperate and fractured world. It means being an agent of change and transformation in the face of growing resistance and outright antagonism toward our faith. It means bearing the fruit of the spirit in an age that worships those that parade the fruit of sin. And it means glorifying God in a day that glorifies almost everything else but God,” Rudin said.

Such a choice may seem impossible. And without God, it is. “Class of 2016, we need you to choose the impossible. You were created, educated and prepared for such a time as this,” Rudin concluded. “This is your moment and I implore you, no, I beg of you, be a generation that pursues faithfulness and forsakes the counterfeit promises of any other definition of success. Claim the victory that is yours in the name of the one who came at Christmas full of grace and truth, take that victory into this world and let God do the impossible in you and through you.”